For years, if not decades, we have been talking about the population and traffic congestion problems in Malé and government authorities have been brainstorming about a suitable public transport system to ease the traffic condition on our narrow roads.
Lack of public transport in the city and availability of motor vehicles for monthly installment has made the number of vehicles on the road intolerable, resulting in all arterial roads becoming almost dysfunctional. Riding a motor bike in Malé is not easy. Driving a car is a nightmare. Parking is impossible!
Recently, there were newspaper articles and TV interviews about introduction of buses in the city to combat the current traffic crisis. The news was well received by the public who is in dire need of any public transport system, not so well by taxi drivers. However, some people are pessimistic if the current road condition can accommodate the introduction of these large vehicles.
Turns out, there is a cheaper, greener and faster alternative. Introducing the somewhat weirdly named, Straddle Bus. This is no ordinary street bus, this transit bus travels along an elevated plane, straddling on street level tracks on either side of the road, leaving ample room for vehicular traffic to pass clean underneath. Cool concept, right?
The project was exhibited in May this year at the Beijing International High-Tech Expo by the Shenzhen Hashi Future Parking Equipment Co Ltd.
Its creators claim this bus could reduce traffic jams significantly, by moving along on top with the normal street traffic underneath it, rather than being one more vehicle on the road. They also claim these buses would require much less infrastructure investment than digging a subway tunnel or a dedicated rapid-transit lane. This would enable existing roads to transport more people while adding little if any to traffic congestion.
While I appreciate the out of the box thinking and this transportation ingenuity, adopting this futuristic concept in our small city may give rise to its own set of problems. But this is expected when adopting any new technology anywhere. There are no perfect technologies or ideas which can be rolled out everywhere without adaptation or modification. Localization is necessary.
How will people board these buses? Passengers can wait for the bus on elevated platforms constructed at bus stops. This will minimize bus stoppage time and help in maintaining the schedule.
Can we trust the current drivers on the road to navigate through? While I trust my skill set to safely drive and negotiate a traffic jam, I do not know how I will react to a huge vehicle overtaking me few feet above my head. Given the current attitude of drivers on our roads, I expect a few exquisite catastrophes.
Here is the link to the original article. Here is a youtube video demonstration in english.
I do not know if the positive attributes of this concept are enough to warrant we dedicate our resources to building this system, but I know for sure, it is worth a look.
One has already decided. Beijing’s Mentougou District will see construction before the end of the year. A route of 186 kilometers have been mapped out for the pilot project.