At the 19th annual Beijing International High-Tech Expo, China flexed some of its public transportation prowess by debuting a model of a proposed bus system that would hover over vehicular road traffic, straddling existing highways. Dubbed the “Transit Elevated Bus,” the radical idea has been kicked around for several years, but now the WSJ reports that China will be building a trial run of the system in its Hibei province later this year.
While here in the U.S., we are still scavenging for mass transit dollars and desperately trying to convince politicians that adding more lanes to highways does not actually relieve congestion, China may literally leap above and beyond U.S transport planning if these “air buses” come to fruition. The engineers claim each bus could hold more than 1,200 commuters at a time and travel up to 40 miles per hour. Additionally, construction would be one-fifth the cost of a subway line and could be completed in a single year.
The busses would have built-in elevators and each car could hold 300 people. The hollowed-out design would avoid any backwards-traveling illusion. Underneath would be traffic-blocking equipment and from here and the sides an evacuation system.
Here in New York, one of the biggest arguments against a rather conventional streetcar line proposed by the de Blasio administration is that it will be slowed by street traffic. These buses would allow vehicles to pass under and supposedly free up some road space that would otherwise be taken up by standard buses.
But could China’s Transit Elevated Bus adapt to New York’s highways? They’d have to contend with overpasses, streetlights, changing road widths, merging lanes, overhead signs. But it’s sexy and shows that countries outside our own are thinking of innovative ways to move their booming populations of urban denizens. Tell us what you think!
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