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Bus to the Future: Inventor Song Youzhou Presents the 'Straddling Bus'
Amanda Reed, 6 Sep 10

You may have already seen renderings of the 'Straddling Bus' when the concept made headlines last month. Now, chinadialogue has posted a six and a half minute video of the inventor, Song Youzhou, explaining the idea, including how the bus works and current plans to make it a reality within the year. It's definitely worth a viewing if you're curious to learn more about the concept.

I think the 'Straddling Bus' is an exciting example of how designers are imagining the future of transportation. It will be interesting to see how this project moves from concept to reality, and according to Youzhou, we won't have to wait long! He says that Beijing’s Mentougou District already has plans to build 186km of infrastructure for the new system with construction starting at the end of the year.

Note: I was not able to capture the embed code for chinadialogue's video, which is in Chinese with English subtitles, but I found the same video with an English language computer voice over on YouTube, which is below:

The original video in Chinese can be found at

A full English transcription of the video is available on ChinaHush.

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I think this is a super-neat design - especially the part about "relay charging" at each station. Being a car-driver in Taiwan, dodging the traditional buses is always a huge hassle (and they drive like bullies). And the compact urban design here means that space is a rare and precious resource - and this design has the potential to save tons of space.

One lingering question, however, is whether this reflects the "we want the green stuff, but keep our old amenities as well" mentality that Worldchanging often warns against... the upside of this bus design is that it provides the same, if not more, space for the private automobile. But should we not aspire to a world where the personal car will become less and less desirable?

Posted by: Andrew on 6 Sep 10

its a very nice idea to introduce this type of buses to the world.which doesnot stop the traffic at all in the busy lanes..
but could this be so easily possible to make some thing like that..

Posted by: tami the elart girl on 7 Sep 10

The future of transportation is on two legs and maybe two wheels. I really don't think a techno-fix like this is the way to go. No more roads need building, and no more cars. We have enough. Think smaller, and less of everything.

Posted by: Tgriz on 7 Sep 10

@Andrew: Thank you for your feedback. You make some good points. I agree that we should plan for a world without the private automobile, but I think this 'Straddling Bus' idea has some merit in the meantime...1) it has the ability to introduce large capacity public transportation to cities quickly and with minimal infrastructure investment (as it mainly uses roads that are already built); 2) it's a 'sell-able' idea even in our current auto-obsessed world, and it lays the groundwork for a system that could hopefully continue to run after cars are gone -- perhaps the buses will run over bike lanes in the future?!?

@tgriz: I see what you're saying. One thing to consider: bicycling and walking can't ever be the only means of personal transportation since not everyone is able-bodied enough to bike or walk. I think planning for low-carbon mobility for all is an important piece in planning for the future...maybe the 'Straddling Bus' isn't the answer, but I thought the idea was worth sharing.

Posted by: Amanda Reed on 7 Sep 10

Public transportation, walking, and cycling are not only the most sustainable forms of transport in terms of energy use, they are also the most space-efficient – important because space is at a premium in congested cities.

This proposal seems to start with the premise that finding ways to channel more cars through congested city neighborhoods is a laudable goal, and that getting those annoying public transit vehicles off the road is part of the answer. This strategy is not very Worldchanging at all; auto-centric thinking like this is what helped compromise the livability and sustainability of modern cities in the first place. It's sad to see China headed down that destructive and unsustainable path. The sooner that Chinese cities learn from the truly Worldchanging cities around the world that are prioritizing walking, cycling, and transit, pedestrians on city streets, the better for China – and for the planet.

Posted by: Tom Radulovich on 8 Sep 10

Hi Amanda - it's definitely an idea worthy of consideration - all the more so, I think, if it negates the need to widen roads to accommodate both cars and buses, further encroaching on pedestrian space. But I also hear what Tom Radulovich is saying - a question is, do we reject anything that is not totally revolutionary, or do we embrace smaller change that may build up into something really big?

Btw, funny thing - I just looked at your profile, and was like: "hm... she looks familiar..." We were classmates at Reed - I was a friend of Jon Donehower, don't know if you remember. I've read you and others' writing at Worldchanging since forever, but never made the connection. Very cool to see another Reedie doing awesome work. Keep it up.

Posted by: Andrew on 9 Sep 10

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