Bus Project Finds a Way Around China’s Traffic Jams: Gliding Above Them

The designer of the vehicle, Song Youzhou, says that prototypes are being constructed and that five cities have signed contracts with his company for pilot projects.

Comments: 43

  1. It is clearly not a bus but a new kind of urban tram system: reliant on tracks, a signaling system, and boarding infrastructure but also limiting auto traffic type and behavior. It's like a less convenient subway.

  2. “It's like a less convenient subway.”
    Haven’t been to the US recently, I see.

  3. Yes, like any disruptive technology it certainly has its drawbacks compared to existing technology. But what is really interesting about it is that it overcomes one of the most expensive and primary issues with other systems:
    (1) With conventional trains, trams: gaining right-of-way rights and building out the tracks along these rights is expensive and time consuming (can take decades), and the tracks are single-purpose for the train/trams.
    (2) With buses: sharing the existing roadways causes further congestion and often causes unpredictable services.
    The potential genius of the proposed technology is that it overcomes (at least somewhat) these issues, i.e., existing right-of-way rights can be utilized, and the tracks share with existing roadways, while at the same time there is not the additional congestion and the service can operate in a predictable way independent of the underlying congestion on the roadways. Lots of issues to overcome, but this is a really interesting idea.

  4. This would be interesting on our interstate system.

  5. It is innovative and is a different concept addressing congestion. Worth experimenting with to determine if it can impact traffic congestion.

  6. That's great! hope it works out and we get to see them over here.

  7. Compared to the massive cost and disruption of subway construction, this bus idea seems promising. When coupled with driver-less electrical vehicles, the "flying bus" can be an almost collision-free solution.
    Chinese designers and urban planners have ample opportunity to tackle their overwhelming pollution and congestion problems. They can demonstrate that the "I-Can" attitude is not the monopoly of the so-called "Exceptional" tribe.

  8. Systems designers used to warn people against computerizing a cowpath.
    Rather than use advanced technology to streamline a given function, people sometimes try to replicate their antiquated Rube Goldberg paper systems with software. Stupid...
    Wherever people have invested large sums in a system, whether financially or emotionally, they are going to be loath to writing off that investment.
    No one likes the idea of change that starts from the ground up because it is often just too traumatic on every level.
    Fact is, though, our entire society should be redesigned from the ground up.
    People should live near where they work and people in all roles and all income levels should live in the same general proximity.
    Advanced technology, including AI/Robotics should make it possible for a family to be supported by one job. Everyone should not be trying to get rich doing the same thing, e.g., going to college and enduring a killer city commute.
    The amount of time and money people spend daily, pointlessly shuffling back and forth is mind-boggling. Moreover, it is destroying the planet. And, sadly, it is not making the majority of ordinary people any richer.
    Quite the reverse...

  9. Glad to see someone else realizes that putting Duct Tape on the broken machine is not a long term solution.

    But we also need to realize there are just too many human beings already. There must be a way to decrease the overall population, gently, without draconian measures.

    One way, that sounds cruel, but may not be, is simply paying childless individuals a stipend. YES, THE MEN TOO. If you're a man and your DNA is in a child, no check.

  10. Having travelled in China, it is difficult to reconcile the computer simulation and the model with the traffic density in existing Chinese cities.

    It could have an application in the design of new cities where road grids and land-use patterns are being re-thought from the ground up.

  11. I like the innovation. Why not try it out to see if it will work? I also like that it runs on solar power. Good for them!!!

  12. Am I the only one who finds this a ridiculous solution? What about when cars need to get off this highway and this thing glides over them just as they are getting over? The guys states that cars must "wait until the bus passes." So now we need to check when some bus is going to glide over us? This works great, as long as it's only a couple lanes going in a circle and no cars get on, off, or have a flat tire at high speed and swerve into it, etc..

  13. Gives new meaning to "thrown under the bus"!

  14. Yeah this makes total sense unless you've actually driven in a car in a Chinese city and realize that lanes hold no meaning to 95% of drivers. You can certainly go over a car if it is perfectly aligned in the lane, but that is sadly a rare occurrence. A better investment would be empowered traffic cops who give tickets when basic moving violations occur directly in front of their faces. Add some order to the chaos, and get a more efficient transit system. Let's go after the low hanging fruit before reinventing the wheel.

  15. I've been to Beijing several times and found traffic there to be no worse than NYC; in fact, probably better.

  16. I find your comment 100% percent coincide with my thought. I always wanted to join the chinese driving course and see how they train drivers with no concept of traffic at all.

  17. Below posted today re: DC, NYC, BOSTON subway crisis. Not likely America will rise to the challenge any time soon. Social infrastructure and general expenditures overwritten by years of conservative think tank output and resulting tax programs.
    ‘While the subways are being repaired and expanded surface public transit must have clearer streets for transit and that can be done as it is in Beijing by limiting use of autos -- all imposed. by quick pass monitoring.
    The proposal has been made to design buses that can ride over car lines, not likely in older US cities. We are talking here about thinking the public-private interface and taxation policy reasonable for urban existence. Leadership and dialog or live with it as now.’

  18. I'd hate to be in the middle of changing lanes when that thing comes along.

  19. The loading ram of loading and unloading seems to be a weakness in the design.

  20. Boom!

    Seems like a it would be easy for a nefarious person or group to kill a lot of people with a car bomb as one of these trains road over it. Though to be fair, it isn't like a packed subway car in an enclosed tunnel or packed pressurized tube jetting around at 32,000' is fundamentally that much safer

  21. Just be very very careful when changing lanes.

  22. planning cities with work and home in the same buildings would solve lot of commuting problems. require companies to build/provide employees homes on rental where they build offices would be cheaper

  23. The most innovative idea for sweeping trucks of the road by public transport.
    This should first be tried on Belgian highways.

  24. Or you could just build an elevated train.

  25. In the past, Elevated Lines achieved what was once thought impossible.

    They exceeded Subways in lack of access, ugliness, noise and filth.

    Any city street the Elevated runs down immediately declines.

  26. Interesting idea. 很有意思。

  27. The elevated bus is going to play the theme music from "Jaws" as it approaches cars.

  28. Elevated trains seem more feasible. This seems so dangerous, costly, and impractical.

  29. Couldn't help noticing the two bicycles on the bike path - no one's on them!

  30. Good Catch ! LOL !

  31. So, if I'm 1/4 mile from my exit & find myself under, surrounded actually, by one of those things, what do I do ?
    And what about large trucks on the road?

  32. A great way to reduce the population.

  33. There are many many things that can go wrong with this. Even with collision avoidance you just made a HUGE traffic block if it has to stop for something for any length of time. Plus the turning factor of waiting for it. Wrecks will cause crazy long backups. How big of a tow truck will that need? If they have to fix it on the spot it may be days depending on whats damaged.

    Monorails were invented years and years ago because smart people then knew something like this was bad idea and trashed it.

    Put the people transport above with small supports going down (not much land needed) and the only way a collision can happen is if a fool or criminal gets on the elevated tracks. (Yes that has happened)

    This should have never left the paper it was drawn up on.

    Yes I am an engineer and I figure out and fix dumb engineers ideas for a living.

    This is a cool movie prop. That's all.

  34. This thing can't turn at all, unless you bank the turns somehow. Why not just make elevated train tracks? Call it the superway

  35. A very flawed concept. I'm surprised it got this far.

    Public Transport needs to concentrate lightweight, electric Autonomous Vehicles, that transport citizens Point-To-Point.

    They could communicate together, and thus could tailgate, speed, and essentially operate as a fluid stream.

    Efficient, Economical, Quiet. A win all around.

  36. How long overdue is this! I can see this traveling down the Dan Ryan in Chicago!

  37. Los Angeles could use something like this on the LA river.

  38. This seems like a needlessly complicated and potentially dangerous solution. Curitiba, Brazil has a solution that works pretty well: dedicated bus lanes down the center of major roads, with above ground stations where people pay at a turnstile and then board the multi-segmented buses, which have doors that open like subway doors on a raised platform. Yes, you need to pay for and make room for the center lanes, but it is also much cheaper than building subway lines. But I wonder if even monorails might be more tried and true than what is proposed in this article.

  39. Vou escrever em Português. Esse projeto tem um erro básico. Os trilhos não podem ser na mesma altura da rua, pois os carros poderão bater no ônibus ou o inverso. Os trilhos deveriam ficar ficar elevado, em cima de uma mureta.

  40. Certainly thinking outside-the-box here. Might make sense in specific situations, so good luck with the prototypes.

  41. Well seems sort of stupid, and costly to build. Why not build a monorail, of better yet, follow our local government in Seattle and build a tunnel that's going to be really, really expensive. And by the time it's done it will be outdated and not handle the capacity. duhhh.

  42. The future is individual green powered vehicles that can be made extremely lightweight and can go very fast, because they are never in danger of touching each other due to their computer assisted intelligent guidance.

    The individual gets their own vehicle with security, privacy, & space for goods clothes etc., this is key. The commute/travel time is lowered & congestion reduced due to higher speed and tight spacing. You get out near a parking garage where the car then drives itself up to a spot, and then you call the car back via your cell phone when your visit is done. All electric non-polluting fast low maintenance transpo. Keep whatever buses etc. as an added help.