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China To Develop a Bus That Straddles Traffic

For anyone who's ever fantasized of shrinking down their vehicle and driving under slow-moving traffic, that could one day be a reality in some Chinese cities. At least that's true for the second half of the equation: As City Lab reports, the Beijing-based company Transit Explore Bus debuted their "straddling bus" concept at the International High-Tech Expo in Beijing last weekend.

The bus design would tackle China's growing congestion problem by transporting passengers high above the road, allowing cars to pass beneath it like a giant, roaming tunnel. You can watch a small-scale model demonstration of the concept in the video above.

A special track would electrically power the bus at speeds up to 40 miles per hour. It would be capable of carrying as many as 1400 passengers at once, making it equivalent to 40 conventional buses. As travelers sit comfortably above two lanes of traffic, motorists in cars shorter than 7 feet would be able to cruise underneath as a simulation of the sky plays on panels above their heads.

Anyone who's ever been stuck behind an impossible-to-pass bus can see the benefits, but the vehicles would be good for more than just road rage. The straddling bus would consume 800 tons less fuel than the buses it would replace and emit 2500 tons less carbon. It would also be a cheaper and less invasive alternative to digging out tunnels to construct subway lines.

Two American architects proposed a similar straddling bus concept in 1969 that would have run from Boston to Washington D.C. It never made it past the design stage, but now that hyperloop pods and self-driving cars are dominating the transportation conversation nearly 50 years later, the idea seems less outrageous.

Transit Explore Bus is working on a full-sized model of the bus in the city of Changzhou with plans to test it later in the summer.

[h/t City Lab]

All images courtesy of YouTube.

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