New China Bus Passes First Road Test: Straddling Bus May Curb Traffic Problems, Pollution

A new bus in China has officially hit the streets. The straddling bus first became a hit when a 3D mock-up showed a digital representation of what it would look like, and could be the next level, literally, of public transportation.

Officially known as the Transit Elevated Bus, this could mean a significant reduction in air pollution, one of China’s biggest problems. The public might actually drive less, taking what looks like a massive train with its bottom half cut out as an economically convenient alternative. The new bus in China has successfully completed its first test drive, and may be ready to help eliminate carbon emissions from motor vehicles.

The straddling bus could also cut down on traffic congestion, as one segment can carry up to 300 people with possibly plenty of room to spare, while two wide lanes can pass safely beneath. The interior appears to be like that of most big city buses in the United States, with cushioned seats along the sides, but with 360 degree sectional seats going down the center, as well as spaced out floor to ceiling poles and ceiling mounted handrails for those who are forced to stand.

Chief engineer Song Youzhou told the local news that the bus can be built for one fifth of the cost of an underground subway and reduce traffic by 30 percent. It may be possible that we’ll see the fully electrical straddling bus head to other nations, cutting down even further on carbon emissions and curbing the ever persistent issue of global warming.

The new China bus could even eventually become 3D printed for easier repairs, as the technology does exist already in Maryland and Las Vegas.

One downside could be that the tracks appear to be equal to those of the average railroad, causing potential issues for those forced to drive under the bus. Leaving the section under the bus could cause issues with tires. The clearance underneath is also about residential vehicle level, meaning most commercial vehicles would need to stay off of the straddling bus route, treating it like a train.

The first real world test of the Transit Elevated Bus was completed on Tuesday in Qinhuangdao, a port city in northeast China, where its power systems and brakes were put to the test to ensure it would be a safe alternative and not simply another problem to replace others.

The idea had been initially pitched in 2010, and then in May at the 19th China Beijing International High-Tech exposition, the bus was proposed again and the proverbial wheels were set in motion.

If it proves successful after a few years of full-time use, we may see the concept spread to major cities across the world. Of course, the new China bus will likely face fierce opposition from the oil industry, which will see a drastic reduction in profits from carbon emitting fuel engines. It will certainly be a tougher sell in the United States and Middle East for this reason.

Of course for loners and those who simply want to shop for large amounts of groceries and other necessities, they will likely stick with their hybrid smartcars and SUVs. A bus will only let you take what you can physically carry, a main limitation which driving by yourself alleviates.

For environmentalists, the new straddling China bus could be a promising wave of the future. For the oil industry, it could spell serious cutbacks.

[Image via ssguy/]