Aug 042010

Traffic-Straddling Bus

China is home to more people than any other country on Earth, and they’re moving into megacities at a rate that’s simply unprecedented.

In fact, just about everything about today’s China is unprecedented – this is a country facing some absolutely staggering challenges in the next 30 years. It’s a peek into the future for Western nations – a glimpse at what is becoming the world’s first megacolony. Managing a transport plan for such a colossal number of people – many of whom now own, or aspire to own, cars – presents a traffic congestion and pollution quandary the likes of which we’ve simply never seen before. Take a look at Mike Hanlon’s jaw-dropping Yez video to get a snapshot of the problems China faces and see how its government and industries are scrambling to become the global leaders in local emissions-free vehicles. And take a look at this amazing public transport solution – it’s a bus network that drives over the top of the cars on a slightly modified road, able to stop without interrupting the traffic flow and to glide over the top of congestion. This go-go-gadget bus is far quicker and 90 percent cheaper to build than a new subway route, it’s solar/grid electric powered and it’s no pipe dream – construction starts at the end of this year.

Say what you will about China, but this is a country that knows how to get things done. It has no choice – its hand is being forced by its massive and rapidly urbanizing population. Luckily, after the GFC, it’s also supremely cashed-up. It’s boom time, and the whole country is aware that if mass solutions for housing, transit, energy and a whole host of other issues aren’t deployed NOW, the country is going to suffer in a big way.

So here’s a fascination public transport idea that we’ve never seen mooted before – giant super-buses that roll on stilts on small tracks between lanes of traffic. So they roll over the top of stopped traffic, and when they stop to let passengers on and off, they don’t interrupt the flow of traffic below.

Far quicker and cheaper to build than a subway or monorail system, the Straddling Bus system simply requires modification to existing roads, and the creation of a network of elevated bus stops. The road mods can either comprise inlaid rails – at a 30 percent energy saving due to lack of rolling resistance – or simply a painted colored line, which the buses can be programmed to follow autonomously as they roll on regular tires. Clearly the latter would be exceptionally cheap to deploy, requiring almost no disruption to the road.

Where there’s no room to build an elevated stop, passengers can get in and out using a built-in ladder.

The fully electric buses charge themselves in a new and unique way – which is called relay charging. All along each route, there are charging stations positioned in such a way that there is always a charging post in contact with the bus. The roof of the bus is itself an electrical conductor, so as it brushes against one of these charging posts, it’s juiced up as it runs. As its main load is starting and stopping at each station, the bus runs on high-power, fast-discharge supercapacitors. The remaining energy after a start can sustain the bus through to the next stop.

It won’t have to worry about traffic lights, as the approach of a straddling bus will be prioritized in the traffic light sequence such that it will always have green lights to move through.

Read more . . .

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