When we first caught wind of these bus/train hybrids that drive over traffic, we thought it sounded pretty awesome and insane. Now known as the "Straddling Bus," it could find it's way to American cities, if the minds behind it can sell the idea hard enough.
First dreamed up by Song Youzhou from Shenzhen, China, Youzhou and his associates have since opened up the U.S. Elevated High-Speed Bus Group in the hopes of being able to deliver the design stateside.
The idea sounds good, though on paper it all seems a little limiting. The Straddling Bus moves along either a track or a painted line that covers two lanes of traffic, and rides only eight feet above the ground. That's not a lot of clearance to begin with, and the drivers below are certainly bound to feel claustrophobic — like when you find yourself between two eighteen-wheelers. On the plus side, the Straddling Bus would be all-electric and run partly off of solar power collected via rooftop panels.
Still, company spokesman Mark Shieh is pretty psyched: "The word 'revolutionary' is so overused, but this new bus actually is revolutionary. 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."
While that may be true — installing a subway is a pretty involved process, sure — it's a wonder how adaptable the Straddling Bus would be to various cities, such as San Fransisco with its hilly streets or New York with its old, cramped bridges. But, hey, who are we to say no? The buses could be on the streets of China as early as 2011, at which point we'd love to see what these things will actually end up looking like.