Technology

Above the Fray

A city in China takes public transportation to a higher level.

By Jonathon KeatsDec 12, 2016 12:00 AM
DSC-J0217_11.jpg
A city in China is testing the Transit Elevated Bus, which straddles the road so that traffic can proceed underneath unimpeded. The bus can transport up to 300 passengers at a time. | Luo Xiaoguang/Xinhua via AP

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It’s a typical urban planning dilemma: Subways are costly to build, but buses get stuck in traffic. In the Chinese port city of Qinhuangdao, a new form of transit is being tested. Combining the mobility of subways with the cost effectiveness of buses, this elevated vehicle straddles the road so that car traffic can travel unimpeded underneath. Supported by roadside rails, the electric-powered Transit Elevated Bus can hold 300 passengers, transporting them 6.5 feet above two lanes of rush-hour gridlock at a steady 37 mph. But critics worry about safety, such as minimal headroom for road traffic, and infrastructure demands. If tests are successful, the elevated bus might one day help congested Chinese cities become navigable again.

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