In an ever increasingly populated world, town and city planners and transport ministers are having to think up ways of dealing with congestion. Here in the UK they've increased taxes on fuel, increased taxes on cars and introduced congestion charge zones in an attempt to draw people away from their cars and onto public transport. Sadly, there hasn't been a notable corresponding investment in public transport other than the controversial bendy buses in London.
Had the UK decided to invest in the public transport infrastructure, they would have turned to the drawing board to come up with ways to improve and expand the current system. Ideas like trams, more buses, underground extensions and light rail systems would all have come up and very quickly been consigned to the bin due to the cost to build, run and maintain.
Those ingenius chappies in China have come up with a brilliant way to improve their public transport system in an efficient, cost-effective and environmentally friendly way: straddling buses...
The idea is the bus straddles the road and fills the gap between the top of cars and the bottom of bridges and tunnel roofs so it doesn't take up any space that cars could (they just drive under it) and the system wouldn't need much in the way of structural changes either. The buses would either run on rails laid on either side of the road or use auto-guiding technology to follow some white lines. They'll be electrically powered using super capacitors that are charged very quickly at the bus stops and discharged between stops with solar power being used as another source of power.
Safety measures in the way of vehicle detecting lasers, flashing lights and loud noises will be built in too to try and keep drivers aware of the buses. Here is the presentation, with SimCity like videos, by Song Youzhou, chairman of Shenzhen Hashi Future Parking Equipment Co. Ltd. selling the idea and it's pretty amazing, even if you don't speak Chinese...
Now this may all look very futuristic and a thing dreams are made of, but it's not. A pilot is due to start in Beijing’s Mentougou District at the end of the year and if it proves to be a success I can see this being rolled out elsewhere. I'd certainly love to see something like this rolled out in the UK.
You can find more details on the system in translation of the above video below it here.