Could the go-go-gadget straddling bus be headed for the U.S.?
The giant Straddling Bus we reported on earlier this year could be headed to the U.S. This week the inventor of the bus, Mr. Song Youzhou, announced that his Shenzhen-based company is aiming to form partnerships or licensing agreements with specialized manufacturers to build the vehicle for the American market. Designed as a way to reduce traffic snarls without the need for much in the way of new infrastructure, the “Elevated High-Speed Bus” straddles two lanes of traffic allowing cars to drive underneath.
The bus is designed to travel on rails or special painted guidelines and each bus contains four compartments that can carry “hundreds of passengers”. With a top speed of 80 km/h (50 mph) and average speed of 40 km/h (25 mph) the mega buses should be able to outpace ordinary buses, which the company says have an average speed of 20 km/h (12 km/h) – although whether there’s enough clearance for them to literally overtake an ordinary bus is another matter.
The bus is also greener than existing diesel-powered buses, being fueled by municipal electricity and solar power, which is supplemented by solar energy collected by panels on the oversized roof. Additional benefits of the bus listed by the company include reduced traffic congestion and lower construction cost and time when compared to other public transportation solutions.
Mark Shieh, a spokesman for the new venture said, "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 Shenzhen-based company plans to start building the buses in 2011 in China where traffic jams have become commonplace – in August this year a massive 100 km (62 mile) long traffic jam near Beijing slowed vehicles to a crawl for nine days.
The Amercian venture, US Elevated High-Speed Bus (Group) Inc., is responsible for business development in the Americas and Europe. In addition to looking for U.S. based manufacturers, it is also interested in transport industry manufacturers in Central America, South America and Europe.
Shieh said a motor home, RV, train or bus manufacturer with production facilities in the U.S. that is looking to diversify would be an ideal partner for the U.S. venture. You’d imagine any potential partners would be inclined to wait and see how the things progress in China before committing money to what seems like a risky venture, but maybe there’s a U.S. company adventurous enough to take the leap. We’ll wait and see.