So. Remember when images of this hypothetical “straddling bus” — built to literally act as a moving bridge on highways — first hit the internet? The group consensus was one very long “Hmm,” both due to the enormity and cumbersome nature of the design. There was no way that this would ever become a real thing, except a full-scale model of said straddling bus has now been built and tested in Qinhuangdao, China.
If you just watched the above video and went “…What,” we can’t blame you. The first thought I have when I look at this giant waddling contraption isn’t one of awe at technology’s advances; it’s more like “Oh good god, this is terrifying.” While part of this discomfort must, and does, arise from the fear that we all have when we encounter something we’ve never seen before, there’s also the very real learning curve that new technologies have before they’re perfected in practical use. And when the stakes are streaming columns of fast-moving traffic? Mm, I don’t know.
But of course, the straddling bus is meant to tackle a real problem head-on — China’s intense traffic. In statements to Chinese media, multiple officials underlined the two real drivers behind the creation of the straddling bus (formally known as the “Transit Elevated Bus”): Saving road space and cost efficiency, as subway lines (which, at their conception, were probably also terrifying) can cost over five times as much to build.
As for the specs? The bus is two meters tall, can house up to 300 passengers at once in a cabin, and can be linked up to a chain four buses long max. While the test run of the straddling bus took place on a controlled track, we suppose it’s only a matter of time before this sci-fi vision ends up on a real road. And while we’re making a fuss about it, we have to applaud anyone thinking up new ways to innovate public transportation — though we still have our fingers crossed for flying cars.