Chinese businessman takes mass transit to new heights

A Chinese businessman has formed a U.S. company in search of partnerships to build elevated bus lines. Yes, that’s right, these are buses that will travel over existing highways. Sounds kind of futuristic.

When I was first sent the email, the concept sounded interesting. Then I started thinking why? Why would I want to travel on a bus over the highway when I don’t travel on a bus on the highway?

futuristic-bus.JPGThe company, US Elevated High-Speed Bus, is looking for a partner, preferably an “RV, motor home, aircraft, train or bus manufacturer with production facilities in the U.S. who is looking to diversify,” said Mark Shieh, spokesman for the new company.

I guess even the company is not sure whether the vehicle is an RV, plane, train or bus.

(For a video on the Elevated High-Speed Bus, click here.)

“We hope to leverage not only their manufacturing capabilities, but also their domestic and export sales channels. In return, we’ll deliver the design and fully developed concept,” added Shieh.

The vehicle, based on Song Youzhou’s invention, the Straddling Bus, is actually quite interesting and could very well work in some areas. Song is planning to launch the project in China next year, where traffic congestion is taken to new levels on a daily basis.

“The word revolutionary is so overused, but this new bus actually is revolutionary” said Shieh. “Relative to the cost of a subway line or other rail transit, our bus delivers extraordinary value. Aside from the low cost, the time for construction is about one third that for a subway.”

The Elevated High-Speed Bus would zip passengers above street level, straddling two lanes of traffic to allow vehicles to pass underneath. It would travel either on rails or special painted “guidelines.” Designed to hold hundreds of passengers, the vehicle would have a top speed of almost 50 mph with an average of about 25. The company claims the average speed of a bus in a large city is 12 mph.

bus-turn.JPGOf course, at those speeds, getting off at your assigned stop may be difficult, which is probably why a city bus travels at an average of 12 mph.

Song claims the high-speed bus is an ultra low-carbon producer and is powered by electricity and solar energy. He also said it will reduce traffic congestion, move a large number of people, and create jobs.

All very interesting, except Song may be missing one important fact about Americans: We love our cars.

I could envision this technology aiding in the transport of goods throughout this country someday, though. If the elevated bus rides on rails along existing highways, that would provide an efficient way to move freight throughout the country, reaching areas where trains cannot go now. Trucks could then pick up the goods and deliver the final mile. That’s a scenario that someday could work.

In all likelihood, though, Song may just be 50 years ahead of his time.

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