Flutterby™! : Superbus

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2011-05-18 21:01:40.73166+00 by Dan Lyke 6 comments

It's the Superbus! No, silly, not Lucius Tarqunius, it's a gull-winged 250 km/h piece of ... uh ... public transportation. Two things of note, the first is that the Superbus Concept page says:

Superbus is a new concept for sustainable mobility, which consists of a new vehicle, new type of dedicated infrastructure and new logistics. For this new concept, all of the intelligence and innovation is put into the vehicle, whereas the dedicated infrastructure, where the Superbus runs at 250 km/h, is made of relatively cheap concrete roads.

It's important to note that this "innovate with the vehicle rather than the infrastructure" thinking is relatively recent. The IVI/IVHS/"highways of the future" that have been failed ideas since the 1930s are all about special infrastructure, and there are very clear economic reasons why roads won out over trains for most transport.

The second is that the YouTube video is hilarious 'cause they took all of these shots of this super-futuristic "250 km/h" vehicle and then played them back apparently in slow motion. You can totally imagine this thing beeping while it lowers itself to pedestrian level at a bus stop, or crawling through stop and go traffic on city streets.

At any rate, I look forward to this thing bottoming out on the hills and running over pedestrians in my neighborhood shortly. And I'm sure that 250 km/h will make for absolutely stellar fuel consumption per passenger mile numbers. Thanks, Larry.

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comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2011-05-19 15:06:34.761369+00 by: other_todd

The way to go, if we are being utterly sciencefictional, is to figure out a way to have buses that can hover over normal automobile traffic (um, without crushing the cars, needless to say). Oh, sure, there will be some minor infrastructure alterations - some power lines will have to be moved/buried to give proper aerial clearance; dedicated bus stops will have to be reserved/fenced off to give them places to land (in Boston if you didn't fence off the landing zones people would try to park illegally in them). But once you'd done the work, you'd have the first bus transit system ever that didn't have the same fundamental flaw that all bus transit systems have always had: Having to coexist in the same space with automobile traffic, thus being no antidote to that traffic.

This is why I still favor rail, or bus systems with absolutely dedicated (no other traffic allowed in them EVER!) lanes. I don't see the point in taking the bus across town for the same hour of stop-and-start I'd get in a car, except for the tiny advantage of not having to find a place to park my car at the end.

#Comment Re: made: 2011-05-19 16:06:18.743338+00 by: Dan Lyke

You have, of course, seen the Chinese straddling bridge bus. Follows lines painted on the pavement, built as a bridge high enough to pass cars, but low enough to have clearance (so semi-trailers and other high trucks have to travel at the same speed as this thing).

Your reason for favoring rail is the reason that I believe that autonomous cars are the solution: Yes, parking is the real problem, but when automation can take out compression waves and dramatically increase the road throughput, the idea of using one vehicle for tens of passengers will become even sillier than it is now. Of course we'll still have the problem of income redistribution, but maybe then we can actually talk about it as income redistribution, and not as "green" transportation or something inherently good when it's actually amazingly polluting and inefficient.

#Comment Re: made: 2011-05-19 20:28:57.20201+00 by: petronius

Back in the 60's I remember an idea from New York Magazine for a combo straddling train, bus service, with a highspeed train straddling the highway which would slow down periodically and either drop off or pick up a regular bus, lowering it to the road by cable, but only stopping infrequently. Sounds like a great way to cause a really horrible accident.

Also, speaking of chinese busses...

#Comment Re: made: 2011-05-19 21:19:47.587674+00 by: ebradway

I was surprised to see buses and trains alternate in the Seattle Downtown Transportation Tunnel. After riding both the bus out to Bellevue and the train to SeaTac, I realized how cool it was to have both departing from the same platforms. It also keeps the larger, long-distance buses off the surface streets.

#Comment Re: made: 2011-05-19 22:19:22.533701+00 by: Dan Lyke

Petronius, I would pay actual cash dollars for a good reference on such a multi-modal coordinated transportation system. All the bad ideas have been around for 70 years or so, resurfacing every 20-30 when people forget about why they were bad the last time, and elements of that are in play now...

#Comment Re: made: 2011-05-20 10:29:22.260915+00 by: petronius

I tried to find some reference for that New Yorker idea, and will continue to do so. One problem of turning 60 is you remember all sorts of interesting things that never made it into the Intertubes...

By, the way, I think I found the inspiration for that low-slung bus-limo thing: the the Maybach Excelero.