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Big Ol' Bus
August 3, 2010 11:11 AM   Subscribe

China to build ginormous buses that cars can drive under.

Chinahush has more information and a translation of the video. The buses are "powered by electricity and solar energy...can speed up to 60 km/h carrying 1200-1400 passengers at a time...[and] cost about 500 million yuan to build [including the 40-km-long path for it, which is] only 10% of building equivalent subway."
posted by Chipmazing (102 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
I would worry about traffic freaking out a bit when a giant bus blots out the sun, but I've been to China, and those drivers can probably handle just about anything.
posted by graventy at 11:14 AM on August 3, 2010 [7 favorites]


Interesting. If that's a track guiding that "bus," I'd say it's more train than bus.
posted by uraniumwilly at 11:15 AM on August 3, 2010 [4 favorites]


How does turning work?
posted by dsword at 11:16 AM on August 3, 2010


I was confused by the use of "train" as well. Seeing as how it's one self-contained car, maybe trolly? Streetcar?

Anyway, it'd be neat to see this.
posted by brundlefly at 11:17 AM on August 3, 2010


It's like some kind of... elevated train...
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 11:17 AM on August 3, 2010 [4 favorites]


Also that bus looks like it couldn't turn corners.
posted by Keith Talent at 11:18 AM on August 3, 2010


That's fucking brilliant.
posted by notsnot at 11:18 AM on August 3, 2010 [4 favorites]


I read that as "China to build ginormous breasts..."
That is all.
posted by phunniemee at 11:18 AM on August 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


Didn't they have something like that in Ogdenville? Maybe it was North Haverbrook. No. It was Brockway!
posted by battleshipkropotkin at 11:19 AM on August 3, 2010 [16 favorites]


I'm trying to think how you could enter/exit the highway in a car without potentially risking getting run over by, or slamming into, the 'leg' of the 'bus' (which I'm referring to as a train.)
posted by Tomorrowful at 11:19 AM on August 3, 2010


Well. I am pretty sure someone will find a way to get cut into bits by that thing, cool as it is.
posted by Mister_A at 11:19 AM on August 3, 2010 [2 favorites]


Hey, I invented this when I was 5! I should totally sue. They'd better not be thinking about rampcars, too....
posted by gurple at 11:20 AM on August 3, 2010 [3 favorites]


I also thought that running on tracks made it more streetcar like, but buses is the nomenclature the articles were using so I used that.
posted by Chipmazing at 11:21 AM on August 3, 2010


carrying 1200-1400 passengers at a time

Wowie wow wow.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:21 AM on August 3, 2010


The should build roads on top of the buses as well so cars can get a free lift sometimes, and maybe another bus on top of that or a train....maybe a train with an airport on top it!!

/snark

This is a pretty cool idea, don't know how that gigantic bus isn't going to collide with cars and kill lots of people as it makes it's way. It should be on rails which makes it a train right???

Anyhow the trend should be towards getting the cars the fuck out of cities and making the roads as pedestrian and bicycle friendly as possible, with tons more green space and parks.

/derail Other than that, do we really want to live in world where the pre-eminent world power is ruled by a post-communist (oligarchy) government and Capitalism is not tied to the idea of human rights, because it functions better that way?
posted by Skygazer at 11:21 AM on August 3, 2010


Upon reading more of these articles, okay, it's much smaller than I thought it would be. But still seems like a lot of lane-shifting/turning risk.
posted by Tomorrowful at 11:21 AM on August 3, 2010


Nice idea, but I'm skeptical about whether it can be easily built. It would have train-like forces on each side (hence the need for some type of track with a wide base to distribute the weight) and the two lane span of the 'bus deck' would be also make it much heavier than a normal passenger train or light rail system. Why not get rid of a lane of cars and build light rail? Or Bus Rapid Transit.
posted by a womble is an active kind of sloth at 11:22 AM on August 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


What if they built ginormous flat buses that cars can drive OVER?
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 11:22 AM on August 3, 2010 [5 favorites]


The answer is socialized hovercraft.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:26 AM on August 3, 2010 [4 favorites]


I'm trying to think how you could enter/exit the highway in a car without potentially risking getting run over by, or slamming into, the 'leg' of the 'bus' (which I'm referring to as a train.)

How do you currently enter/exit the highway in a car without risking getting run over by, or slamming into, a truck or another car? I bet you could just keep doing that.
posted by The World Famous at 11:27 AM on August 3, 2010 [5 favorites]


So it's a train, not a bus. So it's not as logical as a normal trolley would be. So the 3D render looks silly. So China is a pretty Bad Actor. So it seems like a huge technological problem for little real gain.

So what?

It's a cool idea, and it looks neat as hell, and I would ride one in a second. Eat it, haters.
posted by paisley henosis at 11:29 AM on August 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


The wheels on the bus go slice slice slice...
posted by swift at 11:30 AM on August 3, 2010 [11 favorites]


I'd just like to pause for a moment and say 'Sorry." Sorry for all he hating.

I'll just go and eat it, now.
posted by uraniumwilly at 11:34 AM on August 3, 2010 [2 favorites]


Okay. Guys! I figured out why these are a good idea.

Action movies.

Think of all the action movies where someone jumps off of a bus onto a car. Or from an overpass onto a car below. Now busses are also overpasses and the jumping can be extra-awesome!
posted by Tomorrowful at 11:35 AM on August 3, 2010 [14 favorites]


Well, the article says that lanes straddled by the 'buses' would have priority green lights - if the car underneath is going in the same direction, it could turn with the bus or choose to stay put until the bus had passed over. If it's turning, it would just have to do what big 18-wheelers do and turn wide and slow, I suppose.

It's also worth nothing that Mentougou district (where it would run as a pilot project) is a pretty rural and touristy area; it's not part of Beijing 'proper', so to speak, so highways/merging might not be part of the build, and they'd have more freedom to mess with the roads there. I have to say, if I was gonna visit Beijing for touristy reasons, I'd head on over to Mentougou to ride one of these suckers over to the 1200 y/o temples in the area - space-age to old-age in no time flat.
posted by zennish at 11:36 AM on August 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


Each of these should have a built-in carwash.
posted by oulipian at 11:37 AM on August 3, 2010 [20 favorites]


Wow, you people are haters. I figure it would take auto drivers approx 5 minutes to get used to the new experience.
posted by hermitosis at 11:37 AM on August 3, 2010


It's a cool idea, and it looks neat as hell, and I would ride one in a second. Eat it, haters.

Hmmm...so what your saying is that the bus should be edible. Interesting....vewwy interesting.

/strokes invisible goatee
posted by Skygazer at 11:39 AM on August 3, 2010


I would worry about traffic freaking out a bit when a giant bus blots out the sun, but I've been to China, and those drivers can probably handle just about anything.

I wonder how they will handle all those cars that drive between the lanes or the wrong way on the sidewalk? This proposal seems dependent on the fiction that Chinese drivers operate their cars in a neat and orderly way.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 11:39 AM on August 3, 2010


Just hope they don't have any overpasses on these roads. Or at least hope they are really, really high.
posted by smackfu at 11:40 AM on August 3, 2010


First thought: Neat.
Second: Corners?
Third: Non-standard-width roads?
posted by DU at 11:41 AM on August 3, 2010


Reminds me of the Chinese Train That Doesn't Stop At Stops
posted by mvuijlst at 11:41 AM on August 3, 2010 [8 favorites]


Nom Nom Nom! This is a fantastic idea and I can't wait to see it come to fruition. I am curious about the chassis materials, mass and fuel source/consumption, though.

DU: Corners - watch the video. It shows the "bus" as being segmented like a train.
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 11:52 AM on August 3, 2010


"Why not get rid of a lane of cars and build light rail? Or Bus Rapid Transit."

The translation says that this would cost less than light rail, and free up more road for cars. And there'd be warning lights inside telling cars when the bus was about to turn, so they have a chance to get out from under if they're not going the same way.

It's kind of a cool idea, and it looks futuristic. In my city they're finally getting around to building LRT extensions that have been stalled since the 70's-80's, and it looks like they're going to bulldoze through some settled neighborhoods, wrecking all kinds of stuff. These giant buses would be a much more elegant solution.
posted by Kevin Street at 11:54 AM on August 3, 2010


Definitely a streetcar, not a bus. As such, questions about non-standard roads, corners, and overpasses are sorta moot, cause you just wouldn't build tracks in those places. But most major urban areas don't have any of those things, at least not in their downtown areas where such a contraption would theoretically see the most use.

But I can see this as an awesome alternative to light rail. One of the main complaints about light rail is, after all, that it doesn't go where the roads do. Problem solved. Shutting down one lane of a major arterial road for a few weeks to increase passenger capacity by God only knows how much seems like a far, far more efficient solution than either digging tunnels or laying down distinct rail lines.
posted by valkyryn at 11:54 AM on August 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


/DERAIL
Is this where I come to pitch my idea for elevated all-bike roadways in major cities?

Note: I do not have any skill or training in engineering or urban planning. I just fucking hate sharing the road with cars and there seems to be up available on the roads I bike on.
/DERAIL


This is cool. I want one.
posted by edbles at 11:57 AM on August 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


smackfu: "Just hope they don't have any overpasses on these roads. Or at least hope they are really, really high."

I would be hilarious if this simply didn't occur to anybody, and the maiden voyage is cut short by the bus getting de-roof-itated.

Also, "ENGAGE FLAGS OF ALL NATIONS!"
posted by brundlefly at 11:57 AM on August 3, 2010 [2 favorites]


I figure it would take auto drivers approx 5 minutes to get used to the new experience.

You have clearly never been to Rhode Island, where drivers are still not used to concepts like "turn signals" and "lanes." These things would cause a collective meltdown of enormous... well, actually, modest... proportions (the state population is not all that high). But, still....
posted by GenjiandProust at 11:57 AM on August 3, 2010


So, let me get this straight.

This "bus" will require: Additionally, it looks dangerous as hell, and will be restricted to highway speeds. Its traffic-avoidance capabilities (which is really the whole point of this insane design) only work as long as cars don't get stuck between lanes.

At that point, why not just build a dedicated bus lane or an elevated rail line over the median? If you've got the population density to require this sort of solution, you can probably afford to make some investments in rapid transit. (This works in poorer countries too -- the Mumbai Metro opened its first segment this year, and is actually recovering all of its costs, which is outright remarkable for a mass transit system)
posted by schmod at 12:00 PM on August 3, 2010 [3 favorites]


'ginormous'.
posted by carsonb at 12:00 PM on August 3, 2010


But is it Nuclear Powered?
posted by hexatron at 12:01 PM on August 3, 2010


You know what would be a better solution to this problem? Flying cars.

Just sayin’
posted by dinty_moore at 12:02 PM on August 3, 2010


This sounds like something out of Axe Cop. "And then the dinosaur jumped on the bus-train that drove over all the cars in China, and the dinosaur ate the driver, and then the bus-train people needed to have more tryouts."
posted by The Winsome Parker Lewis at 12:05 PM on August 3, 2010 [2 favorites]


I guess they need escapist fantasies like this to keep themselves from going catatonic in the face of what's really going to happen in the enormously overpopulated Chinese cities of the future.
posted by jamjam at 12:05 PM on August 3, 2010


Hey, I invented this when I was 5! I should totally sue. They'd better not be thinking about rampcars, too....

China's won't be build out of Legos; big difference.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 12:11 PM on August 3, 2010


Just to echo something Cat Pie Hurts suggested, this needs the "om nom nom" tag.
posted by Joey Michaels at 12:11 PM on August 3, 2010


I like big bus and I cannot lie.
posted by slogger at 12:11 PM on August 3, 2010 [9 favorites]


How about if we go over the top of the buses?
That technology already exists in the US.
posted by MtDewd at 12:11 PM on August 3, 2010 [2 favorites]


It seems to make the Sims happy,
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:13 PM on August 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


Greyhound would do well with a small fleet of those.
posted by zarq at 12:26 PM on August 3, 2010


How is this not a train? More specifically, can I hijack one and careen it through the city streets, leaving a wake of smashed fruit stands in my wake?

No?

Then it's a train.
posted by quin at 12:33 PM on August 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


C'mon sheeple, clearly it's a secret plan to build a monorail.
posted by mullacc at 12:46 PM on August 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


Also, "ENGAGE FLAGS OF ALL NATIONS!"

It's just not a big bus without a lounge singer. =p
posted by nomisxid at 1:01 PM on August 3, 2010


I'm not impressed. I'm still waiting for somebody to build a Mammoth Car. Go Speed Racer, go-oh!
posted by scalefree at 1:02 PM on August 3, 2010


dsword: "How does turning work?"

Fucking turning, how does that work?

(Curse you ICP! Anytime I hear 'How Does X Work,' I have to turn it into that...)
posted by symbioid at 1:04 PM on August 3, 2010


The should build roads on top of the buses as well so cars can get a free lift sometimes, and maybe another bus on top of that or a train....maybe a train with an airport on top it!!

You don't fool me. It's buses all the way down.
posted by Splunge at 1:04 PM on August 3, 2010 [2 favorites]


Looks like a vehicle right out of Geof Darrow's comic book Hard boiled.
posted by Termite at 1:07 PM on August 3, 2010


You guys are missing the point: THAT'S A COOL FUCKING MODEL!!!
posted by Ogre Lawless at 1:07 PM on August 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


Imagine the magnificent plunge such a magnificent bus would take! It would be a righteous and dope-ass plunge.
posted by Mister_A at 1:09 PM on August 3, 2010


In Chicago the subways go above ground in between highway lanes. Instead the train would move over the highway.

I could see it being safe as long as it functioned like a train in that it had its own dedicated stops and didn't need to maneuver in traffic. Or maybe they could combine it with the "stopless train" linked above (that thing is pretty cool).
posted by amethysts at 1:09 PM on August 3, 2010


the article says that lanes straddled by the 'buses' would have priority green lights - if the car underneath is going in the same direction, it could turn with the bus or choose to stay put until the bus had passed over.

And cars caught in the intersection, blocking the lane? Well, buses can stop in decent time to respond to real-time traffic snarls. I'm curious about the braking distance of this elevated train.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 1:19 PM on August 3, 2010


Anyone else get the Robert Heinlein/"The Roads Must Roll" vibe from this?
posted by mosk at 1:20 PM on August 3, 2010 [2 favorites]


It's very Gerry Anderson.
posted by Artw at 1:32 PM on August 3, 2010


I wonder if that bus will stop at Big Wok way (right next to small Wok way), and across the street from Chopstick town...
posted by Skygazer at 1:35 PM on August 3, 2010


That thing looks like a total disaster.. Goodbye cycling, for one. Also, signals to tell cars when to get out from under?!!?! That's ridiculous. Either there is lots of traffic, in which case drivers really aren't going to want to or be able to move to accommodate the thing. Or, there'll be no traffic, and then what the hell is the point again?

On the other hand, that train that doesn't have to stop at stops is really very impressive!
posted by Chuckles at 1:42 PM on August 3, 2010


I like the idea. But then, I like ideas and progress! I wish my own (NZ) government was as forward thinking.
posted by Enki at 1:43 PM on August 3, 2010


carrying 1200-1400 passengers at a time

Wowie wow wow.


About 1400 people. (from the big picture)

Wowie indeed.
posted by Back to you, Jim. at 1:44 PM on August 3, 2010


Many cities already have trolleys or other light rail systems that use space on existing roads. These have existed for decades and most of them work just fine. Yes, people in cars, on bikes, and on foot have to get out of the way. Duh.

I really don't understand all of the comments in this thread that amount to "but how will people in cars/on bikes get out of the way!?!" Seriously, light rail already exists. Engineers figured out how to make trains go around corners well over 100 years ago. Steering and stopping a train are really not big problems in the 21st century, folks.

Existing light rail often shares the road with other traffic, including crossing intersections and even driving in the same lanes that traffic drives in. Yes, if you don't watch where you drive, you could get in an accident with a light rail train. Yes, if you block an intersection, you run the risk of a light rail train (or a truck, bus, or other traffic) crashing into you. So it's a good idea, as a driver, cyclist, or pedestrian, to be attentive and in control.

Salt Lake City, for example, put in a light rail system in the last few years that drives down the middle of the street and shares intersections and road space with cars. And yes, some stupid and/or careless people ignored the trains and got hit by them. It took more than a few weeks for people in Salt Lake City to figure out that they should maybe pay attention when they drive so that they don't get hit by a train. But somehow they have now managed to co-exist with light rail, just like people all over other cities (e.g. Toronto, Rome, etc.)

The idea of this particular concept seems to be that it would have a slightly smaller footprint than existing light rail and that it would have a higher capacity. But really, how much smaller would the footprint be? It would basically be like having two very narrow light rail trains driving down the road, rather than one normal one, like what lots of cities already have. And they'd be saving what, maybe a meter in total width, at the expense of mechanical and logistical complexity and complicated visibility issues for cars?

I don't see the point.
posted by The World Famous at 1:58 PM on August 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


Existing light rail often shares the road with other traffic, including crossing intersections and even driving in the same lanes that traffic drives in.

Existing light rail doesn't have trains with cars driving inside them. What if heavy traffic's keeping me stuck inside one of these things as my exit's approaching? What am I supposed to do?
posted by scalefree at 2:13 PM on August 3, 2010


The engineer in me thinks this is brilliant.

The resident of Los Angeles in me, however, remembers when we put in the Orange Line, essentially a dedicated two-lane bus highway that reused an old defunct railroad right-of-way.

For the first year, people regularly drove into the sides of the buses, despite traffic signals, warning signs, and a big 'ol bus intersecting their path. It is amazing how out of touch with their surroundings drivers on autopilot (ie driving along a familiar area to a familiar destination) can be.

So this is awesome, and I will happily move into a city that has 'em, about five years after all the residents have gotten used to it and stopped having completely avoidable accidents as they adjust.
posted by davejay at 2:32 PM on August 3, 2010


I agree with whoever it was that said the real win is to stop doing stuff that encourages people to drive cars in cities.
posted by Mister_A at 2:34 PM on August 3, 2010


This really seems like something straight off the cover of Popular Mechanics that will never be built.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:37 PM on August 3, 2010


Considering that transitways, which essentially do the same thing, cost upward of $20 million per mile and are not flexible with changes in city needs, this really makes a hell of a lot more sense. I'm not sure if this idea works as safely on city streets as it does on highways, but either way it ought to do perfectly fine if the roadways are constructed so that the bus legs never have to cross lanes of traffic; this can probably be done with strategically-placed medians, ramps, and private turning areas.
posted by crapmatic at 2:38 PM on August 3, 2010


What if heavy traffic's keeping me stuck inside one of these things as my exit's approaching? What am I supposed to do?

Maybe they could install a pedal in every car right between the accelerator and the clutch that could somehow engage some sort of advanced "slow down" technology so that you could let the train pass you and then exit the freeway, just like you currently do if you're in heavy traffic approaching your exit and you're blocked by a bus.

What do you do if you're on the freeway in heavy traffic and there's a big truck or bus right next to you as you approach your exit? You slow down and change lanes behind the truck or bus.

It doesn't matter that existing light rail doesn't have trains with cars driving "inside" them. Why? Because you don't have to exit up. Existing light rail has trains with cars driving next to them, just like this concept does. The only difference is that, with this concept, there are two trains running parallel to each other, with traffic between them. As long as you don't have a flying car, the fact that the train is a catamaran is irrelevant.

But again, the concept seems fairly pointless, given that it adds mechanical complexity without actually gaining any advantages over existing light rail.
posted by The World Famous at 2:39 PM on August 3, 2010


It doesn't have to be a train, though. The presentation guy says that they could have two thin rails on either side of the road, or go with two white painted lines and "auto-pilot technology" on the bus to keep it stable. Presumably he means some kind of computer control. In cities that have lots of freeways or ring roads (like Beijing) this might be a good way to put in mass transit without making traffic problems worse.
posted by Kevin Street at 2:43 PM on August 3, 2010


It's like a train that brings along it's own station - awesome - I think...
posted by zeoslap at 3:20 PM on August 3, 2010


Ooh, this just happened.

Light Rail Train, Car Collide In South Seattle‎
posted by Artw at 3:24 PM on August 3, 2010


TheWorldFamous, the additional advantage the articles were touting is it's cost effectivness. The other option they were considering was a subway and this can be done at 10% of the cost. That's the point for the city planners.
posted by Chipmazing at 3:25 PM on August 3, 2010


Light Rail Train, Car Collide In South Seattle‎

That actually happened several times a month in Houston until they worked out a better left turn system and signage. The car always loses.
posted by Burhanistan at 3:26 PM on August 3, 2010


Phase 2 of development proposes it folding in on itself, allowing passengers to pass behind and in front of one another in space/time.
posted by xod at 3:26 PM on August 3, 2010


If I'm on the giant bus: awesomeness. If I'm the car driving under the bus: not so awesomeness. Am I the only one?
posted by thankyouforyourconsideration at 3:29 PM on August 3, 2010


TheWorldFamous, the additional advantage the articles were touting is it's cost effectivness.

Yeah, I just don't buy that the invention of a new type of far more complicated light rail is less expensive than just building a normal light rail system on the surface. And I don't see how these things take significantly less road space than a tram or bus, since each "leg" would have to take up at least half the width of a train.
posted by The World Famous at 3:34 PM on August 3, 2010


This is just a weird, over-thought way of building a monorail, without the practical benefits of an actual monorail. Alas, The Simpsons told us monorails are bad, so naturally the matter is settled in pop culture perpetuity.

Meanwhile of all the futuristic stuff people long for, the goddamn flying car, aka the most fucktarded piece of dimwittery since the propeller-driven car pedestrian blender, lives on like a never-ending fever dream.

Ugh, what a future this is.
posted by sonascope at 3:47 PM on August 3, 2010


Seattles monorail has a habit of crashing and catching fire so it's not like it;s got anything on street level light rail there...
posted by Artw at 3:48 PM on August 3, 2010


I'd actually call two crashes (without fatalities) and one fire in the 48-year service career of the Seattle monorail a pretty spectacular safety record, actually. Add the fact that they're running the original 1962 ALWEG trains, and I think the system makes a pretty good account for itself.
posted by sonascope at 3:59 PM on August 3, 2010


So, what happens when there's a motor vehicle accident underneath one of those things? I envision a simple fender bender turning into a pretty good pileup which would derail the bus/train and probably kill/injure way more people than your average accident.
posted by blaneyphoto at 4:09 PM on August 3, 2010


"But again, the concept seems fairly pointless, given that it adds mechanical complexity without actually gaining any advantages over existing light rail."

Advantages to conventional at grade mixed car and light rail:posted by Mitheral at 4:50 PM on August 3, 2010


carrying 1200-1400 passengers at a time

Based on my bus commute in Vancouver, if there's gonna be a thousand or more people on that thing they're gonna need to institute some sort of minimum hygenic standards for passengers because holy shit people on the bus are funky in the morning
posted by Kirk Grim at 4:50 PM on August 3, 2010


As a kid, I used to daydream about tractors being built this way. Anyone who's from somewhere with two-lane roads where you spend a lot of time going 50 mph behind agricultural equipment probably did the same.
posted by Countess Elena at 5:03 PM on August 3, 2010


Advantages to conventional at grade mixed car and light rail:

Stations all one story up thereby not causing pedistrian traffic problems at grade.

Stations for conventional at-grade mixed car and light rail are already often one story up anyway, with staircases and escalators. It seems to work fine.

Cars don't get stuck behind trains at stations/trains don't need to merge into traffic at stations.

Conventional light rail that runs down the median doesn't need to merge into traffic anyway.

Trains can continue to make progress in grid lock similar to lane splitting motorcycles.

Conventional light rail that runs down the median can do this, too.

Trains do not take up lane space.

Conventional light rail that runs down the median doesn't take up lane space, either. Furthermore, this catamaran thinggy takes up twice as much ground space as a conventional light rail, because it has two tracks rather than one.

Good views for sight seeing.

Is that a priority?

Ridiculously wide track makes train very stable.

Tipping over because of a narrow track isn't really a problem for modern light rail, is it?

And another issue is that a train with that many people on it is going to have to stop at each station for an incredibly long time just for people to get on and off the train. Wouldn't it make sense to have smaller trains that run at shorter intervals than to have a smaller number of really giant trains?
posted by The World Famous at 5:05 PM on August 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


You know this gives a whole new meaning to the idea of throwing someone under the bus.
posted by Skygazer at 5:46 PM on August 3, 2010


dinty_moore: "You know what would be a better solution to this problem? Flying cars."

Screw that, have you ever seen Chinese traffic?

The last thing China needs is millions of objects in the air that would quickly become raining debris.
posted by bwg at 5:47 PM on August 3, 2010


I can imagine a similar system that is long enough to allow retractable wheel posts to lift one by one as it crosses the intersection, allowing cars to cross under it without even noticing, therefore never having to stop. But now we're talking a budget that's more than building a solid track over the existing road.
posted by Brian B. at 6:15 PM on August 3, 2010


Aaahhh, does anyone else see all of the issues with this idea? Good luck China. I hope you can mitigate all of the risks and make it work.
posted by Increase at 7:03 PM on August 3, 2010


"Good views for sight seeing.

"Is that a priority?"


Nope just a bonus.

"Stations for conventional at-grade mixed car and light rail are already often one story up anyway, with staircases and escalators. It seems to work fine."
I've never seen an at grade light rail station that has stations one story up in high density areas. Can you give an example?

"Conventional light rail that runs down the median doesn't need to merge into traffic anyway."
"Conventional light rail that runs down the median can do this, too."
"Conventional light rail that runs down the median doesn't take up lane space, either"

Most high density city areas I've seen don't feature medians in their roadways. Right of way for light rail seems to be a challenge every time a rail transit project is proposed. Generally though there are currently roads going where you want transit to go.

"And another issue is that a train with that many people on it is going to have to stop at each station for an incredibly long time just for people to get on and off the train. Wouldn't it make sense to have smaller trains that run at shorter intervals than to have a smaller number of really giant trains?"

Good point. Though I would guess it comes down to what percentage of the trip is spent stopped loading/unloading verses travelling and how fast you could load/unload. If the train pulls into the station and 50% of the walls on each side turn into egress/ingress points (and loading was from one side simultaneous with unloading on the other side) you could move a lot of people. Even more reason to have large stations/platforms not at grade where you could spread out. And it would be wizard for handling heavy flow out of events like football games or factory shift changes.

This concept obviously isn't the end all-be all city mass transit solution. I mean you'd need to have the ridership to support such massive people movers in the first place and then you'd have the need to shoe horn that transit into existing transportation infrastructure.
posted by Mitheral at 8:08 PM on August 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


Ridiculously wide track makes train very stable.
And makes it ridiculously hard to turn. What would be the turning radius of that thing? 500m?
posted by a womble is an active kind of sloth at 6:39 AM on August 4, 2010


Why would the width of the track have any bearing on the turning radius? It's not like the wheels are going to be rigidly mounted to the frame like some over grown hot wheels car; the trucks on either side will undoubtedly be articulated (if the wheels aren't fully independent) and the wheels have the advantage of not being tied via solid axle to the wheel on the other side. Individual cars could in theory be constructed to turn 180 degrees in a single car length (though that is really unlikely uf course). And the train itself is articulated reducing the sweep limits on turn radius imposed by the length of the train.
posted by Mitheral at 7:44 AM on August 4, 2010


Most high density city areas I've seen don't feature medians in their roadways.

If they have room for the catamaran train's tracks between the lanes, they have room to put a single pair of tracks down the middle of the road.

I've never seen an at grade light rail station that has stations one story up in high density areas. Can you give an example?

Los Angeles and DC both have them. Los Angeles even has it for buses.

But there's no reason a tram can't just pull over to a carve-out on the side of the road - out of the lane - and stop on the curb, like they do in many cities.
posted by The World Famous at 8:49 AM on August 4, 2010


One more thing:

Most high density city areas I've seen don't feature medians in their roadways.

In the concept model and video in the article about China's catamaran train, the train is moving right next to a grassy median that, combined with the width of the catamaran train track adjacent to it on both sides, is easily as wide as a normal light rail train.
posted by The World Famous at 8:57 AM on August 4, 2010


"But there's no reason a tram can't just pull over to a carve-out on the side of the road - out of the lane - and stop on the curb, like they do in many cities."

Except that it means merging with traffic when the trip resumes and it reduces the size of the sidewalk and simultaneously increases the pedestrian load at that point.

"If they have room for the catamaran train's tracks between the lanes, they have room to put a single pair of tracks down the middle of the road."

Maybe, of course no figures are given on how much room the tracks require. The linked translation of the presentation video says it saves road space and that existing roads can be remodelled to accommodate the tracks. It would be nice if extensive technical information on the proposal was available in English.

"In the concept model and video in the article about China's catamaran train, the train is moving right next to a grassy median that,"

They wanted to make it look nice; I doubt the nicely treed, grassy meridian is typical of the tightest parts of the route or even of the route as a whole.

"Los Angeles and DC both have them. Los Angeles even has it for buses."

How does that work? Do people exit through the roof? Immediately enter an elevator on exiting the bus? Does the bus ascend a steep grade at every stop to get passengers a story above grade?

Anyways I'm coming across as a cheer leader for this technology and I'm not. I have no idea of the design constraints or goals of the proposed project. I just think it's cool and that there are identifiable goals that could be met with this proposal. Maybe those goals are crazy. Whether the financiers can afford this solution to those goals will remain to be seen. If they decide that looking cool and giving good views is worth constructing a glorified street car network at twice the cost and complexity then, um, yay for engineering.
posted by Mitheral at 11:31 AM on August 4, 2010


How does that work? Do people exit through the roof? Immediately enter an elevator on exiting the bus? Does the bus ascend a steep grade at every stop to get passengers a story above grade?

Escalators, stairs, and elevators.
posted by The World Famous at 11:40 AM on August 4, 2010


Getting the people on and off might be tough - but this would still be really cool.
posted by crapples at 6:20 AM on August 7, 2010


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