Public transit in a metropolitan area is all about balance; if there aren’t enough public transit options, too many people choose to drive, clogging roadways and adding to pollution. But trains are expensive (and, if above-ground, contributors to traffic) and adding more buses to the road can magnify traffic woes further. Enter the 3D Fast Bus, a futuristic concept vehicle that carries passengers above street level, straddling the lanes below so traffic can pass freely underneath.
Chinese company Shenzhen Hashi Future Parking Equipment Co. came up with the idea, which is more like a massive double-wide tram than a bus, with a fixed route and physical connection to the city’s municipal power grid. Running on solar power gathered from its rooftop supplemented with grid energy, the “Fast Bus” is expected to top out just shy of 40 miles per hour, so it’s not ideal for long treks. But for intra-city travel in large, dense metropolises like those common in urban China, the 1,200-passenger 3D Fast Bus could be a feasible solution, far-fetched though it may seem.
The vehicle is wide, straddling two lanes at a time, letting traffic pass underneath both when it is stopped and when it is in motion. It’s clearly best suited to long, straight stretches of roadway, but the bus can turn and is equipped with signals underneath that give cars traveling there ample warning that a turn is approaching. Radar scanners will alert drivers passing underneath if they wander to close to the bus’s wheels, and a similar system would warn traffic approaching from behind if a vehicle too tall to clear the bus’s belly.
Sound like one of those cool-but-too-crazy-to-work kind of transit schemes? Beijing has already mapped out 116 miles of its Mentougou District as a test bed for the 3D Fast Bus. Construction to install the proper infrastructure should begin by year’s end.
The presentation below isn’t in English, but a translation is available via the source link below.