Civil Engineering Concept – The Road Straddling “Fast Bus”

October 13, 2010 at 7:31 am 3 comments

 Matt Barcus
President, Precision Executive Search, Inc
Managing Partner,

View Matt’s profile & connect with him on LinkedIn

I am a die-hard Philadelphia sports fan.  I’m a Phitin’ Phillie Phan during baseball season, I bleed green during football season, and I bleed orange during hockey season (and if the Sixers could give me an inkling of hope…anywhere…I would bleed for them as well!).  I am blessed with a wonderful wife who is pretty patient with me when it comes to watching the games on TV, especially the Phillies since every game is on TV – not that I watch every game, but I watch enough to admit that I may get in trouble in other homes.  In any event, a couple of times a year I score some tickets to head into Philly to watch a game or two. A few  weeks ago was one of those times.  Under normal circumstances, during non-rush hour times, I can make it down to the Philadelphia sports complex in about fifty minutes.  During rush hour I would give myself an hour-and-a-half just to be safe.  This would give me enough time to enjoy a few cold one’s at McFadden’s before hand, or enjoy some crab fries from Chickie & Pete’s.   Well, two weeks ago I left at 4PM for a 7:05PM game where Roy Halladay would be vying for his 20th win of the season…plenty of time to sip a few suds and grab a bite to eat before game time, right?  As it turns out, from 4PM – 6:30PM I had the following view:

Now, at the end of the day, after parking and walking to my seats I was able to grab a beer and a kielbasa sandwich from Bull’s BBQ in time to see Halladay’s first pitch on his way to his 20th victory of the season.  It was all good.

Where am I going with all of this and what could this possibly have to do with civil engineering?  Well, I would have much rather taken a 3D Fast Bus:



As U.S. cities continue to pursue funding and public support for light  and high-speed rail services, Civil, Rail, and Transit Engineers in China continue to develop advanced concepts that will help alleviate congestion on our roads and make travel a much more enjoyable, less stressful experience.  There is not a doubt in my mind that we will eventually get there ourselves, as not only do we have the some of the most creative and innovative engineers in the world, but we really do not have a whole lot of choice based upon the current state of our infrastructure and the needs of our society…I just wish a 3-D Bus was in place a couple of weeks ago!

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Entry filed under: Civil Engineering, civil engineering blog, Civil Engineering Issues, Fun Stuff, High Speed Rail, Transit, Uncategorized, US Infrastructure.

Civil Engineering 2.0 – How Do You Measure Up? Would your clients vote for the new guy/gal or for you, the incumbent?

3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Deflandre Jean-Luc  |  October 25, 2010 at 9:48 am

    Of course in China it will certainly work. Here in Europe we will have more difficulties because everything takes a very long time here!!!! We, with our first 12m Electric bus on batteries with 300Km autonomy, we have to “lobby” a lot to obtain our first order from the Public Transport companies and from their Ministers of Mobility! But as I said, I was in China and I could see in one year the GREAT works they have done in Shanghai e.g. with tunnels! So YES this will come there and quicker then we here in Europe can immagine! Friendly regards, Jean-Luc

  • 2. aepcentral  |  October 18, 2010 at 9:49 am


    Alfonso Gonzalez • Oh God! I have read that before.

    It can be a good way to cut traffic by half by cutting cars by half….

    You have several problems: intersections, driver scared as the thing whoosh over them, bridges, etc.

    If you want to improve bus travel average speed the best way is to build dedicated line lanes and roads where possible and affordable.

    I am defining system that combines the flexibility of buses with the capabilities of trams, without the cost of rail, but until I get
    a patent I cannot said more about it…. 😉

    Has its problems though….

    Matthew Burden • I think this will work (and other minor and major variations on the theme will also work).

    Matthew Burden • I believe this is the company website of SHENZHEN HUASHI FUTURE PARKING EQUIPMENT CO., LTD
    (someone tracked it down for me):
    I am not associated with it in any way at this time.

    Matthew Burden • From what I have read , I think it is designed to fit to use the space between the bridges and the tops of
    cars at 2m. Amongst many other reasons it is attractive is the combined infrastructure element.
    This benefit cannot be underestimated in the coming economic/raw materials climate. Particularly if one is looking at transport
    from a purely private funding perspective and people cannot rely on central funding (which I don’t believe they should).

    I don’t believe that one can anticipate how it will behave in relation to other traffic, without actually doing it. So it is good
    that they are building 100km or so of trial road to look at traffic flow issues. Drivers might adjust to it (or a variation, mark
    2 version with lessons learnt implemented) quite easily. Indicators from the Netherlands of de-regulated roads projects (as well as
    a general instinct) suggest to me that as long as people get used to its presence – it might not be a problem ….

    Matthew Burden • I have not talked to the company, but one article I read indicated that there was a virtual rail version (special
    line painted on a road – computer tracking). In which case the cost issue becomes even better and you can concentrate your entire funding
    on building “roads” (which are now upgraded roads) and not split your funding between rail and roads. High speed version for motorways
    due later no doubt (well maybe …….)

    Matthew Burden • Difficulty of planning permission in developed countries cities/countryside, planning compensation … .etc. etc. OK.
    That’s enough – I don’t want to monopolise or bore.

    Eric Masaba • The Mt. Blanc Tunnel could use something like this – not least for rescuing people in emergencis and hoisting cars
    from the roadway after a smash.

    Chris Domin • Great concept, if you ignore risk and liability. Combining human driven vehicles with the buses could prove to be a bit
    tricky, especially with relativistic and relative spatial relationship issues to the drivers of cars.

    However, in an autonomous car environment, the straddle buses could make a lot of sense…

    Eric Masaba • Cars and trams seem to mix on streets well enough. Is this really that different?

    Matthew Burden • The traffic flow trial will be interesting. Of course adoption of such things (if they work) would probably be quicker
    with competitive road systems. People can make free choices about what types of road they want to go on (and whether they wish to
    tolerate.. say a fast bus) and insurance premiums or trip default swaps would guide one very quickly as to whether there were/are more risks and liabilities. If no one will insure you to go on that type of road then maybe you don’t ….

    Joe Palen • This thing doesn’t even substantiate a first order “reasonableness” test.

    The video shows it turning at intersections like regular vehicles. Since it is 6m wide, it would need twice the interior articulation
    of a conventional 3m wide light rail vehicle, which wastes interior space and has it’s own safety issues.
    The video says it is 4.5m high to fit under existing structures. Since people are 2m high, this means the vehicle clearance underneath
    it is at most 2m. This is fine for most passenger vehicles, but many if not most trucks are more than 2m. The video shows trucks approaching
    from behind being warned to go around, but that’s not the problem.

    This thing is supposed to relieve congestion by driving faster than it. Hence, it will approach trucks stuck in congestion and be stuck
    behind them. You can’t eliminate trucks from the outside lanes, because they have to access/egress somehow. Even sub 2m passenger vehicles
    queued straddling lanes during access/egress would queue this thing.

    This thing could plausibly only run straight down inside lanes where tight curves aren’t an issue and trucks could be banned. However,
    then you’d need all the passenger loading gantries to be in the center median. If you have space to do that, you’d just as well build a
    light rail or EV only auxiliary lane down the center median.

    For this thing to work, it would need more than 2m of vehicle clearance, which means it would have to be on an all new corridor with new
    higher structures. However, if you going to develop an all new corridor, then there is no need for a specialized “bus” where the entire
    design concept is to retrofit into conventional highway traffic infrastructure

  • 3. aepcentral  |  October 15, 2010 at 8:28 am

    One of the places we post the link to our blog is on numerous industry specific groups on LinkedIn.
    Here are a couple of comments that were made in those groups:

    “Oh God! I have read that before.
    It can be a good way to cut traffic by half by cutting cars by half….
    You have several problems: intersections, driver scared as the thing whoosh over them, bridges, etc.
    If you want to improve bus travel average speed the best way is to build dedicated line lanes and roads where possible and affordable.
    I am defining system that combines the flexibility of buses with the capabilities of trams, without the cost of rail, but until I get a patent I cannot said more about it…. 😉
    Has its problems though….”

    -Alfonso Gonzalez


    “I think the concept is good, I cannot see why it could not be built, the technology is available,
    all you need to do is to size up existing tram in street running technology. My concern would be
    the practical operation of mixing unpredictable car and lorry traffic with a huge tram. I think that
    you would have to wait for the introduction of automatic driving of the cars and lorries will would
    be interlocked with the position of the tram. This might be possible in say 20 years time, in the
    meantime let us see China prove me wrong and build the monster.”

    -John Freeman


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