For me, the most exciting aspect of the "straddling bus" being developed in China isn't the multi-leveled cinematic chase scenes it could be featured in. Nor is it the relative-motion physics problem it could potentially lead to. (If James Bond jumps off the front of a straddling bus at 30 mph, will he manage to land on a car at 60 mph, that is 10 meters behind and four meters below him?) It isn't even the inflatable plastic slide that each of the buses will be equipped with — for those of us who don't feel comfortable leaping off large vehicles in the case of an emergency — that has me most excited.
What's most exciting to me about the straddling bus is that it's such a clean, satisfying solution to an interesting puzzle.
Here are some of the main puzzle pieces Chinese inventors had to overcome:
The finished project is known officially as the 3D fast bus, but the nickname "straddling bus" is no misnomer. The bus will literally straddle the road and carry a shocking number of people — around 1,300 passengers — over cars and under overpasses.
Shenzhen Hashi Future Parking Equipment Co., Ltd, proposed the bus idea. They say the bus will travel at up to 60 km/h (about 37mph). Construction of the 186 kilometers of rails that will carry the bus will begin at the end of the year.
And the end of the year is by no means too soon for greenhouse gas-reducing technology. In terms of CO2, we're at 380 parts per million — that's 100 ppm higher than it was at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. According to the chairman of the Shenzhen Hashi, the bus can save up to 860 tons of fuel per year, which would prevent the emission of 2,640 tons of carbon.
The United States is second only to China in greenhouse gas emissions, and transportation is a hot-button issue. The transportation sector makes up a third of the country's carbon dioxide emissions. From coast to coast, regions are struggling to deal with the multifaceted problem. In New York City, the economic crisis is causing controversial train closures and price jumps, while in Los Angeles, the mayor is attempting to borrow billions of dollars from the federal government for the largest transportation expansion project in the country.
If the straddling bus has inspired you to make United States transportation greener — and weirder — please sign our petition.
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