3D Express Coach
|This article is outdated. (March 2013)|
The 3D Express Coach (simplified Chinese: 立体快巴; traditional Chinese: 立體快巴; pinyin: Lìtǐ Kuǎi Bā) (straddling bus, straddle bus, land airbushttp://www.treehugger.com/public-transportation/straddle-bus-may-be-coming-down-road-soon.html or tunnel bus) is a proposed new bus concept designed by Shenzhen Shenzhen Hashi Future Parking Equipment Company|Hashi Future Parking Equipment Company. It was unveiled at the 13th Beijing International High-tech Expo in May 2010.  A trial was scheduled to begin in Beijing's Mentougou District by late 2010, however the project was not given authorisation by the district authorities - the technology was considered to be too immature, and further trials will not be put out unless a concept is proven to actually work. 
The bus will run along a fixed route, and its passenger compartment spans the width of two traffic lanes. Its undercarriage rides along the edges of the two lanes it straddles and the overall height is 4 to 4.5 m (13.1 to 14.8 ft). Vehicles lower than 2 m (6.6 ft) high will be able to pass underneath the bus, reducing the number of traffic jams caused by ordinary buses loading and unloading at bus stops.
Passengers on board the bus are expected to experience a ride comparable to riding in the upper level of a double decker bus. They will board and alight at stations at the side of the road with platforms at the bus floor height similar to stations of an elevated railway, or via stairs descending through the roof of the bus from a station similar to a pedestrian overpass. The bus will be electrically powered using overhead lines or other roof electrical contact systems designed for it, supplemented with photovoltaic panels, batteries or supercapacitors on board. It will travel at up to 60 km/h (37 mph). Different versions will carry up to 1,200 passengers, with the larger versions being articulated to facilitate going around curves.
The bus will have alarms to warn cars traveling too close to it, and signals to warn other vehicles when it is about to turn. It would have inflatable evacuation slides similar to those of an aircraft. Optional features could include sensors to keep it from colliding with a person or object (such as an overheight vehicle in front), warning lights and safety curtains at the rear to keep drivers of overheight vehicles from going underneath, repeater traffic signals underneath to relay the indications of traffic signals up ahead, and animated light displays to simulate stationary objects to prevent disorientation of drivers underneath.
Youzhou Song, the bus’s designer, estimates that it could replace up to 40 conventional buses, potentially saving 860 tons of fuel and avoiding 2,640 tons of carbon emissions that those 40 buses would produce in a year.
According to the proposal, it would cost about 500 million yuan (~US$74.5 million) to build the bus with a 40 km (25 mi) guideway. This is claimed to be at 10% of the cost of building an equivalent subway, and is estimated to reduce traffic congestion by 20–30%. The Chairman of the company has said that it would only take a year for one to be built. 115 mi (185 km) of track is set for construction in the Mentougou District of Beijing for late 2010.
In China there are four main modes of public transportation: subway, light rail, bus rapid transit (BRT) and normal buses. The express coach would be a substitute for BRT and augment its advantages. To remodel the road for the bus, two options are available: rails can be laid on the edges of the lanes that the bus occupies, or two white lines can be painted on the road to facilitate use of autopilot technology. Rails would offer less wheel rolling resistance and better energy efficiency. For either option, it may be necessary to widen the lanes occupied by the bus to accommodate the bus wheels and undercarriage whilst allowing other vehicles to pass under the bus two abreast. Since the bus is no higher than a tractor-trailer, roadway overpasses will usually not be a problem.
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