Thursday, August 05, 2010
Here are two interesting transportation concepts being talking about in China and online. The first one is this one, a kind of a cross between a bus and a tram but better than both. It's a bus in that it drives on a standard road, but it's a tram in that it moves along tracks, but instead of the tracks needing to be built in their own area they are simply laid along the road and the 'bus' moves along them. The bus also has all the passengers on the second floor, while the first floor is simply an empty space which enables cars below to pass through, no different than driving under a bridge.
There is a video you can watch at the link of the bus in action, and you can see how turning works as well. It would require a special traffic light that would let the bus move ahead into its own space after which it makes a right turn. Better than this though would simply be to test it out on a completely straight route, one right through the centre of the city. It would then be able to use regular traffic lights, and it would be a kind of ghost tram that doesn't get in anybody's way.
The other one is a video from a few months back, of a train that never stops. The reason why it never stops is this: people waiting to board the train get on a car ahead of time and wait for it to approach. A few minutes before it arrives the door closes, and then along comes the train. It passes underneath, and begins picking up the compartment on the top (while simultaneously letting go of the other compartment where people are getting off), which eventually matches speed with the train and off they go. The people that boarded the train then go down below, and those that want to get off make their way up in order to get off. The big advantage to this train is that it saves both time and energy.
This design would have to be changed a bit though due to the large volume of traffic at certain stations and times of day. A single car like this would certainly not be enough at these times, certain cars below would be packed with people anticipating the chance to get off, and it would be a pretty wild situation overall. Better than this would be a car or series of cars on top the same size as the train, and instead of having people board and alight at the same place there would be a section where they get off, then a space, and then another section where others board the train. It would look like this:
Grey: The top part of the train where people are getting ready to get off. It has now slowed down quite a bit and is going to stop at the green part. After they get off it will slowly move over to the red part where people are getting ready to get on.
Purple: this is the top part where people have just gotten on the train, which is blue and below. Because they are the same size it works a little differently from the video: the train first goes by below, begins to pick up the purple compartment on the top, but matching speed right away would be too sudden so the purple part will not match speed until it has almost been passed by the blue train (i.e. the end of the blue part and the front of the purple part will barely be touching, making both of them almost the length of two trains for a moment), but once it reaches that point it will have matched speed with the train, and then it will simply slowly pull ahead until it matches the train below and the passengers can get off.
If this is still too sudden another option would simply be to have the train slow down a bit as it moves through. It would necessitate a bit of braking, but it would still never have to stop and would pull through the station at a speed of about 30 kph or so after which it will get back to normal speed again.