“Straddling” bus–a cheaper, greener and faster alternative to commute

| July 31st, 2010


A big concern on top of urban transportation planner’s mind is how to speed up the traffic: putting more buses on the road will jam the roads even worse and deteriorate the air; building more subway is costly and time consuming. Well, here is an cheaper, greener and fast alternative to lighten their mind up a bit: the straddling bus, first exhibited on the 13th Beijing International High-tech Expo in May this year. In the near future, the model is to be put into pilot use in Beijing’s Mentougou District (bjnews). (The official site of the high-tech expo put it as 3D fast bus, which I think is more confusing, for now I’ll just call it the straddling bus.)


Proposed by Shenzhen Hashi Future Parking Equipment Co., Ltd, the model looks like a subway or light-rail train bestriding the road. It is 4-4.5 m high with two levels: passengers board on the upper level while other vehicles lower than 2 m can go through under. Powered by electricity and solar energy, the bus can speed up to 60 km/h carrying 1200-1400 passengers at a time without blocking other vehicles’ way. Also it costs about 500 million yuan to build the bus and a 40-km-long path for it, only 10% of building equivalent subway. It is said that the bus can reduce traffic jams by 20-30%.

Here is the presentation by Song Youzhou, chairman of  Shenzhen Hashi Future Parking Equipment Co., Ltd.


What you can see from the video is traffic jams, what you can hear is noise, and there is also invisible air pollution. At present, there are mainly 4 types of public transits in China: subway, light-rail train, BRT, and normal bus. They have advantages and disadvantages, for example, subway costs a lot and takes long time to build; BRT takes up road spaces and produces noises as well as pollution to the air. How to develop environmental-friendly public transportation? Straddling bus provides a solution. Let’s watch a demonstration.

The straddling bus combines the advantages of BRT, it is also a substitution for BRT and subway in the future. As you all know, the majority vehicle on the road is car, the shortest vehicle is also car. Normally our overpass is 4.5-5.5 m high. The highlight innovation of straddling bus is that it runs above car and under overpass. Its biggest strength is saving road spaces, efficient and high in capacity. It can reduce up to 25-30% traffic jams on main routes. Running at an average 40 km/h, it can take 1200 people at a time, which means 300 passengers per cart.

Another strength of straddling bus is its short construction life cycle: only 1 year to build 40 km. Whereas building 40-km subway will take 3 years at best. Also the straddling bus will not need the large parking lot that normal buses demand. It can park at its own stop without affecting the passage of cars. This is what the interior looks like: it has huge skylight that will eliminate passengers’ sense of depression when enter.

There are two parts in building the straddling bus. One is remodeling the road, the other is building station platforms. Two ways to remodel the road: we can go with laying rails on both sides of car lane, which save 30% energy; or we can paint two white lines on both sides and use auto-pilot technology in the bus, which will follow the lines and run stable.

There are also two ways in dealing with station platform. One is to load/unload through the sides; the other is using the built-in ladder so that passengers can go up and to the overpass through the ceiling door.

Straddling bus is completely powered by municipal electricity and solar energy system. In terms of electricity, the setting is called relay direct current electrification. The bus itself is electrical conductor, two rails built on top to allow the charging post to run along with the bus, the next charging post will be on the rails before the earlier one leaves, that is why we call it relay charging. It is new invention, not available yet in other places.

The set here is super capacitor, a device that can charge, discharge and store electricity quickly. The power it stores during the stop can support the bus till the next stop where another round of charging takes place, achieving zero toxic gas throughout the process.

About the ultrasonic waves put forth from the end of the bus, that is to keep those high cars or trucks away from entering the tunnel. Using laser ray to scan, cars get too close to the passage will activate the alarm on the bus end. Inside the bus, there are turning lights that indicate a the bus is intending to make a turn to warn the cars inside. Also radar scanning system is embedded on the walls to warn cars from getting too close to the bus wheels.

Nowadays many big cities have remodeled their traffic signaling system, to prioritize public buses, that is to say when a bus reaches a crossing, red light on the other side of the fork will turn on automatically to give buses the right of way. Our straddling bus can learn from this BRT method. The car can make the turn with the bus if that is the direction it wants to go too; if not, the red light will be on to stop the cars beneath while the bus take the turn.

The bus is 6 m in width and 4-4.5 m high. How will people get off the bus if an accident happens to such a huge bus? Here I introduce the most advanced escaping system in the world. In the case of fire or other emergencies, the escaping door will open automatically. I believe many of you have been on a plane. Planes are equipped with inflated ladder so people can slide down on it in emergency. I put the escaping concept into the straddling bus. It is the fastest way to escape.

The bus can save up to 860 ton of fuel per year, reducing 2,640 ton of carbon emission. Presently we have passed the first stage demonstration and will get through all of the technical invalidation by the end of August. Beijing’s Mentougou District is carrying out a eco-community project, it has already planned out 186 km for our straddling bus. Construction will begin at year end.

Thank you.

173 Comments | Leave a comment | Comment feed

  1. Kris Haamer says:

    This is the craziest transportation device I’ve seen to date. By far.

    • pug_ster says:

      From people who complains that China copies everything, at least it is original.

      • yan says:

        Four great inventions are by Chinese i.e. The Compass, Gunpowder, Papermaking and Printing.

      • fly´bye says:

        well .. actually disney allready invented this many years ago via Gyro Gearloose in the cartoon of donald duck, so no it aint that new and original

    • carlos says:

      I am sure this is the best idea on transportation today.

      Please sell it to USA since it is broken. It need your help.

      Please read: “Mr. Obama, that was a secret am-bush”
      at realpolitica.com
      if you want to know the bold truth.

      • Gary says:

        “Please sell it to USA”

        These busses would be great in China where the regular busses are packed completely full. In the USA, where the regular busses are empty, this would be a 1,200 seat empty monster rolling around using up taxpayer money for nothing.

        • Joebin says:

          You obviously have never taken the CTA

          • Jason says:

            I’m from Chicago. I can confirm this would be an empty tax monster in US. The busses are enough for any American city.

            • Matt says:

              that may be the states problem. perhaps you should be filling up those otherwise empty buses instead of guzzling gas to and from work every day. many contries in the world are contributing to the environmental issues in the worl but so are the states and they should be utilizin gthings like this to help combat the problems

              • Jason says:

                I think people who live in Cities do utilize public transportation in the US. In a city like Chicago we’re still working on getting the population up to 3 million. Beijing has 20 million. So far, The Subway and Bus system is enough for us.

              • Lone says:

                The point you and clever Carlos above are overlooking is that most of the cities in the US were built between two relatively fine points in history. One was the mass introduction of the automobile that heavily influenced the layout of towns. Two, the most recent, was the decades well before ‘green’ and ‘evil oil’ showed up. Cheap gas, a large, wealthy developing country, and a century of the automobile with a long standing view of the positives of driving. Why confine ourselves to dense, old-world communities where everything is in walking distance when all the signs (at the time) says we dont need to.

                The international community, and many Americans, jump up and down yelling ‘fix the problem’ (which is unique in history) without ever realizing the scope of it. Good or bad, free-travel is the foundation of US society and the logistics of altering that deep mindset and the entire way it functions is immense. This bus is a tool and step in the right direction but not a magic fix and one that does not address the root issues.

                • Jason says:

                  Everyone has a car in Beijing too, Its a status symbol more than transportation device in most cases. Even if this crazy bus thing is amazing, i believe people will still buy cars.

                  • Michele says:

                    There are just over 4 million cars in Beijing–less than one-fifth of the population. Status symbol is only a part of the motivation. If that’s all people bought them for, would the roads be this packed? Another factor is the exurbanization that the government has encouraged to take pressure off the city center which pushes people further away from work and in greater need of cars. Mentougou, where the bus will start out, is one of these edge cities that could greatly benefit from such an innovation.

                    • Jess says:

                      I agree with Michele and I would like ot add that there are more cars in teh states than there are in china alone…to be quite honest I like this idea and think that maybe the states should consider it as a possibility…And most light rail or subway systems which is the closest thing that the states have to resemble this…run on either gas or electricity which in the bigger cities is fueled by gas…The whole concept of it is a greener way of transportation, that moves vast volumes of people and is cost effective…


    • huk hogan says:

      You think it is crazy because you live in a cocoon! When Americans or the West do it, it is not crazy.

    • S. Charles says:

      It looks good on the screen. And I’m sure it looks good on paper. But really, the chance of a traffic pile-up under this thing, and the ramifications of such a pile-up, are just too great. Not only would passangers avoid such a bus, but who would want to drive under this thing?

  2. xino says:

    That’s really a cool idea! Why couldn’t I think of that. Its a neat idea to lower traffic

    • AndrewG says:

      It also has the opportunity to go up a 1 way street the wrong way!!

      did not display that concept – eh!!

      • Anonymus says:

        That isn’t necessarily possible, because what if a big truck comes down? Would it have enough time to dodge the straddling bus? Maybe possible, but surely more dangerous than just simply following the traffic direction below…

  3. Alejandro says:

    amazing. +10

  4. GuoBao says:

    Straddling buses have been theory for decades but as far as I know nobody has every built an operating one. Would be very cool to see it come to life in a real city, though I doubt it would be long before some moron driver crashes into it and derails it. Also I would like to point out the hugely inflated number of people they propose it will carry. 300 per cart is only going to happen if people are squeezed together like in the worst of today’s regular buses and nobody likes that one bit.

    • O Hai says:

      Well, in China’s fast growing cities… that’s not very unlikely.

    • Cyril says:

      As a resident of Shanghai.. believe me, they will get 400 per cart on there at rush hour.

      • Anonymus says:

        😛 And that’s only 1 cart! they estimate 1200 passengers in total, so that means 4 carts by their estimates… In the end it could get up to 1600 as Cyril suggested! 😀

  5. Very interesting. I’m curious to see how it handles drunks, crossing traffic……

  6. shenmeniao says:

    this mode of transportation demands an action movie

    yao ming action hero acting debut?

  7. CBC says:

    seems very innovative, but i’m sure some ass will still manage to crash into the bus. Just like those drivers that don’t read the clearence level under the bridge. :-/

  8. Devin says:

    geogrous ~!

  9. John says:

    Interesting concept, but the accidents would be nasty.

  10. Cold Heartless Fearful Guy says:

    Just need another guy dissatisfied with society to take a container of petrol on board and turn into a ‘towering inferno’.

    Interesting design, but it fails to take into account one design feature required of Chinese road users – the total traffic chaos they have when travelling!!!

    If it has to ‘turn-off’ the main road (like at 1:30) and has it’s body crossing the lane, it would be full of idiots in taxi’s trying to race the light!!! Having a moving tunnel to negotiate will be very interesting

    • yi says:

      this is not a racist comment, it is the utter truth

    • AndreBabe says:

      I guess maybe this would be a chance for the chinese to behave well on the road? A few accidents, and then they’ll become good boys and good girls on the road. 😛

  11. NIGGRADAMUS says:

    Muthaf*ckers had me until I read “Inside the bus, there are turning lights that indicate a the bus is intending to make a turn to warn the cars inside.” Make a turn with vehicles inside in the driving environment in China? NEGRO PLEASE. Did the genius inventor ever drive in China?

    • KC says:

      I know, so that would cause an accident for sure as people are not paying attention and all of a sudden the bus is going to make a turn! That means that either they drive into the side of the bus, or, they slam on the breaks and then you have a 7 car pile up.

    • kai pan says:

      Why do you make as ass of yourself by displaying the crude, uncultured side of lower-class black society?

      Is it really necessary to show the world that you cannot express yourself without using vulgarisms?

  12. Devin says:

    “gergeous” should be

  13. sunbin says:

    well…..it can save the HOV lanes in freeways.
    in US (eg Los Angeles), freeway lanes were closed or narrowed to make way for Metro. with this straddling bus the original lanes and shoulders could be retained.

  14. Carl says:

    It’s a beautiful design, but given the experiences I’ve had while travelling in Beijing and other cities… lanes are pretty much non existent, so I failed to see how this could work in such an environment. Perhaps installing a super stiff brake, so whatever is crashing into it won’t even budge the bus?

    • bananian says:

      If this thing can carry 300 passengers, it will be REALLY heavy, which means no one on board would even notice if a car hits it.

  15. yao says:

    I like it but…
    with all the crashes into guardrails already, it would always be stuck behind some rail bent into its path. And it would freak people out a bit if this thing came zooming over them.

  16. TS says:

    Looks neat, but it seems that you would have to compare it to the elevated track systems that exist(ed) in many cities such as Chicago and New York. In elevated tracks, the elevation is built into the track, so you need a lot of steel to elevate the entire length of the track, while here the elevation part is built into the train.

    So, there might be savings here, but do they make up for all the technological and safety complications of the design? Hard to tell, but my money would be on elevated tracks if the choice is only between these two. Of course, elevated track systems have some image problems (think of an old elevated track with trains rattling by your window every few minutes) when compared to the neat, white, and shiny CG generated images of these “buses”.

  17. Buhaoyise says:

    Cool! I like this idea.

    On the other hand China could greatly improve traffic flow by simply teaching basic road safety / efficiency to drivers: ie. right of way, shoulder checks, lane discipline.

  18. Crystal says:

    “… and there is also invisible air pollution …”

    Hehe, air pollution in China is quite visible 🙂

  19. Simon says:

    Brilliant idea though to be honest some of the points brought up are a bit impractical or at least unrealistic. Personally I just don’t like the idea of more than one vehicle occupying the same space at the same time. I think with a bit of work and perhaps slightly more realistic goals, this could be a great alternative to a lot of traffic congestion. Nice job, dude

  20. Cleo says:

    I only know that I hate being out in direct sunlight which is why the expo in Shanghai looks so unattractive to me. There are covered walkways in the Summer Palace for a reason. It’s all well and good to enjoy “the great outdoors” but not if one emerges permanently speckled and creased. We call ourselves the Yellow Skin people not the brown paper bag skin people. In Hongkong, most recreation happens indoors, air conditioned and the girls bronze beautifully in the half minute it takes them to go from haven to haven. But it IS only half a minute. I would think twice about designing anything that doesn’t offer sun protection.

    • KC says:

      I concur because of the UV rays and also the internal temperature would be lower so they wouldn’t need to waste energy on AC.

  21. Andi says:

    Nice idea,

    How can they set the tires in motion? There is no space for a normal motor – axis system? The only way I can think of is a caterpillar.

  22. ben says:

    How about having the bus go over reverse traffic. Therefore it can prevent trucks going under it. Cars spend less time underneath and have a less chance of a accident.

    • KC says:

      This is not a solution for trucks because now they have even less time to react because this bus is coming at them during a traffic jam, how can the truck get out in time?

  23. s says:

    there’s so many problems with this concept
    1. what if there was a accident ahead? everyone will have to get off the bus or wait till accident clears?
    2. there’s a lot of j walkers in china, there’s no dout someone will get hit.
    3. is it safe enough for the passengers if some driver hits it from below.
    4. there’s bound to be some truck drivers who think they can make the 2m mark

    • KC says:

      I think it’s a great idea but like you, I am skeptical about the safety. I value my life too much to ever step foot on one of these things.

  24. Tony P says:

    I like how it destroys cars or trucks that get too close to it with a death ray.

  25. Alindor says:

    Esta muy interesante… mi cordial saludos para quien lo invebto este sistema de transporte…

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