This has to be one of the strangest ideas for improving traffic flow that you'll ever run across: An extra-wide, extra-high bus that carries up to 1,200 passengers without taking up any additional space. Called a "straddling bus," the vehicle spans the width of two traffic lanes and sits high above the road surface on a pair of stilts that leave the road clear for ordinary cars to pass underneath. It's kind of a train, except that it doesn't require elevated tracks or extensive tunneling. Construction costs are roughly one-tenth of the amount required to build a subway of the same length, says the inventor. From the NYT:
A pilot project for the vehicle is in the works in Beijing, and several other Chinese cities have shown interest. [Shenzhen Huashi Future Parking Equipment] says the vehicle -- which will travel at an average speed of 40 kilometers an hour, or about 25 m.p.h. -- could reduce traffic jams by 25 to 30 percent on main routes. The straddling bus could replace up to 40 conventional buses, potentially saving the 860 tons of fuel that 40 buses would consume annually, and preventing 2,640 tons of carbon emissions, said Youzhou Song, the vehicle's designer.
Another plus is that the vehicle would be powered in part by solar energy. Who knows whether such a contraption can really work - in China or anywhere else. But it's good to see that some governments are looking at alternatives to prohibitively expensive subway systems that will take decades to complete.