Chinese commuters know as well as anyone else what it's like to live with traffic and congestion on a daily basis. Cars, pedestrians, cyclists, buses, and trucks form a perpetual gridlock as millions move about in the city on a daily basis. Outside-the-box thinking may be the best bet for clearing things up, since the number of cars on the road isn't exactly shrinking. To counteract the delays caused by buses, Shenzen Huashi Future Car-Parking Equipment Co. is trying to redefine the way the vehicles interact with passengers and other cars on the road.
The planned solution is a bus (more like a train) that straddles two lanes of the road, allowing other cars to pass underneath. The most noticeable benefit will be the freedom for traffic to move past, or through, the buses while they are stopped to pick up and drop off passengers. These slow moving, massive people movers can share the road with smaller cars and even some trucks that would normally move faster, and stop less frequently.
The 3D Express Coach is constructed like a bridge, with passenger seating at the top, and narrow supports at each side, taking up a very small strip of road on either side of two adjacent lanes. Riders will enter from elevated platforms, designed to allow safe access, away from the traffic on the ground. The trick to this design is allowing room for cars to pass below, while still clearing existing bridges above.
The first stretch of road will be constructed beginning later this year, in Beijing. An initial investment of around 500 million yaun (almost $74 million) is expected to build the first of the roads and buses to test the system. Developers are hopeful that the design will cut traffic jams by as much as 30%.
Of some of the recent future transportation concepts I've come across, this one actually makes a lot of sense. If the buses in China really do contribute that much to traffic and congestion, allowing them to run on the same roads as normal cars, but with basically zero physical footprint, could go a long way in freeing up space and improving traffic flow. Check out the links below for a demo video of the 3D Express Coach in action. Did anyone else notice that none of the cars or people in the animation look Chinese? Odd.