EDIT: Watching the video now. The "bus" is divided into many sections which need to "snake" around turns. This fact is fudged a lot -- many of the illustrations also show vehicles that do not have joints. Judging from the size of the bending joint sections, the minimum turn radius of the bendable trains looks fairly large.
And by the time you have that, there are probably way better ways to deal with traffic than this sort of crazy contraption. Even if this ever becomes practical I have a hard time seeing it ever being the best use of money.
Segmenting the bus enough to give it a safe turning radius will make it seat very few people. (And note I don't say "decent" or "cost-effective", I said safe. If cars are driving underneath, the "bus" must also turn exactly like a car.)
Nifty concept, pretty pictures, much less practical than the only-barely-practical-if-that trains that don't have to stop that got posted four or five times a few months ago. But worth noodling around with; I don't fault the designers too hard, I fault the credulous media.
I'm pretty sure Houston drivers would be. They can't even deal with light rail on city streets!
The reasons for this may be carelessness or disregard--reasons don't really matter. The behavior exists and rules/signs don't appear to mitigate very successfully (especially strange signs and irregular rules you don't see anywhere else).
Carelessness and disregard are part of the human condition and why defensive driving is great. It follows the robustness principal of "Be conservative in what you send; be liberal in what you accept."
Unfortunately, the performance envelope of Houston's passenger train precludes defensive driving on its part. It can't be a good street-citizen.
This all just supports my point. If Houston drivers are pinheads that feel like they can cut-off a train that out-masses their vehicle by a factor of ten, what are Chinese drivers going to do about these massive tunnel-things going around when they have to drive underneath those things? It's begging for a lot of accidents, I think.
When fractions of a second matter, the police are only minutes away...? Not sure what calling the police will do.
Although by the looks of this system it is to be similar to a rail system, so I'm unsure if a side-on-side collision would even be capable of derailing this and causing serious harm.
Honestly, I'd be more worried about car-on-car crashes under these. I've seen how stupid people are driving under bridges. Despite no shape-change in the lane, people tend to drift away from any walls or support pillars as though they're afraid of hitting them, and I've seen it to the point of them cutting other drivers off.
Basically the car traffic will be signalled to stop, giving the bus priority.
You can cross the bus with the tram:
...with the articulated bus:
It is important to be realistic, but I also think that this type of thinking is notably absent from U.S. society. The thing that defines Chinese innovation for me is that it is based almost exclusively on urgent necessity, which is always a great environment for progressive ideas.
Is it really a good use of space?
For one thing, it means all your roads have to have some huge overhead clearance, which stops you from having overpasses et cetera.
Secondly, your road has to be made wider to put the bus there anyway, since you need space for the bus wheels. I doubt that the extra half-lanes you need for the wheels on either side of the road will be much less than one full bus lane.
Thirdly, every bus stop, which was previously just a metal post sticking out of the concrete, is now a complicated two-storey structure with stairs.
And that's before we get to the problem with turning the damn thing. You'll notice that the video depicts this bus on an insanely wide road; I have difficulty imagining it in an area where space really is at a premium, and in such a place I can't imagine it'd really take up less space than, say, a dedicated bus lane.
According to the video it's a hybrid. When there's no rails you need to paint special lanes, and the lane-assist system will keep the vehicle on track. From the operator's point of view it's driven like a train.
That's even before they've taken into account the costs of building and testing enormous custom-designed vehicles rather than using tried and tested technology.
Alternatively, they could have sacrificed slightly more road space for a conventional light rail system, or even a bus lane and all the flexibility that comes with regular buses....
They line up neatly coming from the back because they physically have to but anyone who has seen the traffic in China knows that cars will not get out of the way or obey the lane markers and are quite likely to abruptly (even at risk to themselves or their vehicle) cut the thing off from the front in order to squeeze in front.
Or, y-know, fines. And a bored cop sitting on the top of the giant bus with a crane.
I'll believe it when I see it, in spite of the fact that 'building will commence soon'.
How will the drivers deal with a vehicle that is in their perpetual dead angle ? How will the driver of the 'urban train' see the vehicles he's moving over and make sure that none of them get crushed at intersections in case traffic somehow got blocked?
China has some history of 'grand announcements' which are then not followed up on, and a few that they did follow up on that failed fairly spectacularly. We'll see if this one works out, I'm sceptical but who knows, maybe it will work.
The three gorges dam is also still holding up in spite of lots of nay saying so I'll give them the benefit of the doubt.
In crowded cities you need people to get in and out of the bus quickly, meaning lots of doors and very few steps. Also let's not forget wheel chairs. How could an elderly person climb all those steps to get out of the bus? How about someone with a baby in a buggy?
Yes, it's cheaper than a subway, but that's the only advantage. When this bus makes a turn, at least some part of the traffic must be stopped. Cars will crash into the bus without doubt. The bus stops will be expensive to build.
Spare two lanes and build a light rail, separated from the traffic by fences solid enough to prevent cars from landing on the rail. Make all intersections with regular traffic at different grades (overpass or underpass).
It's a proven technology, no accesibility issues, cheap stations, completely separated from the rest of the traffic (because of this it can become completely automated).
My hunch is that computer-driven cars are the real transport innovation we should be concentrated on. When a region can go 100%-auto-auto, it will increase road capacity and eliminate congestion, without tearing up roads with massive new (and inflexible) rail construction.
These trains that never stop seem a lot more feasible than the buses. Granted it would require a massive amount of work from an infrastructure perspective but it seems like such a brilliant solution that would make public transport infinitely more appealing.
Kudos to the Chinese for being willing to try it out, but the concept existed at least in 2001(if it was Patlabor 3) or 1993(Patlabor 2)
They did not start building high buildings for no reason. Why would the solution be any different if a solution one day our roads needed?