Can An Elevated Bus Solve China's Traffic Woes?
To state that China has traffic issues is an understatement. A 2015 study conducted by navigation system maker TomTom revealed that the country is home to five of the top twenty most traffic congested cities in the world. Though Chinese authorities have tried to control the traffic flow with tactics that range from charging road tolls to building expressways with 50 lanes, nothing appears to be working. Now, some engineers are proposing an ingenious solution to ease the country’s traffic woes — An elevated bus that glides over cars
The concept for the “straddling” or elevated bus was first introduced six years ago at the 2010 China Beijing International High-Tech Expo. However, while the idea generated a lot of excitement, the bus never became a reality due to safety concerns. Since then, Song Youzhou and his team have been working hard to perfect the design.
The new and improved Transit Elevated Bus (TEB) that was unveiled at the 19th China Beijing International High-Tech Expo on May 22, is a cross between a subway and a bus. Designed to run on rails, it covers two lanes. However because the bus is elevated 2-meters (6.5-feet) above the road, it allows vehicle traffic to continue flowing unabated. Retractable ramps enable commuters to board and disembark the bus at predesignated stations.
The inventors believe that with a capacity to accommodate up to 1,400 passengers at a time and a maximum speed of 60 km per hour, the TEB is a better and cheaper alternative to subways. According to Youzhou, each elevated bus will cost about $4.5 million USD or about sixteenth the price of building a new subway.
Also, thanks to its large passenger capacity, deploying just a single TEB would be enough to replace 40 conventional buses. Besides reducing road congestion, eliminating the buses would help alleviate another big problem the country is grappling with — Pollution. That’s because the TEB is powered by solar energy and electricity, not fossil fuels. Youzhou estimates that replacing 40 buses could cut fuel consumption by 800 tons, and carbon emissions, by 2,500 tons annually!
Though some critics are still opposed to the idea, officials of the coastal city of Qinhuangdao seem to be willing to give it a try. They have commissioned the TEB team to build a 12-mile track to test the innovative bus. If everything goes according to schedule, the bus will be ready for its first passengers by the end of summer!
Resources: dailymail.co.uk, abc.net.au,guardian.com, citylab.com, autoblog.com
Reading Comprehension (8 questions)
- What did TomTom unveil about China's traffic congestion in 2015?
- What are some of the things the Chinese government has tried to do to ease traffic congestion?
Critical Thinking Challenge
The elevated bus is (a) a great idea (b) a really really bad idea.
Vocabulary in Context
“The inventors believe that with a capacity to accommodate up to 1,400 passengers at a time and a maximum speed of 60 km per hour, the TEB is a better and...