Driving in China

The news is full of both reports of a 100 km long traffic jam and a futuristic way to prevent such jams.

From MSNBC:

A traffic jam stretching more than 60 miles in China has entered its ninth day with no end in sight, state media reported.

Cars and trucks have been slowed to a crawl since August 14 on the National Expressway 110, which is also known as the G110, the major route from Beijing to Zhangjiakou, Xinhua News reported.

I must admit I first thought the drivers and their vehicles had not moved for nine days.  I suppose that is possible, but it seems more likely that the trip only feels like nine days induration.  Individual drivers have not been stuck for nine days but the stretch of parkway (get it?  Parkway?  Ha, ha, ha, ha!) has been congested for nine days.

UPDATED: I might have been too hasty.  From Yahoo News (with my bolding):

BEIJING, China – A massive traffic jam in north China that stretches for dozens of kilometres and hit its 10-day mark Tuesday stems from road construction in Beijing that won’t be finished until the middle of next month, an official said.

Bumper-to-bumper gridlock spanning 100 kilometres with vehicles moving little more than a kilometre a day at one point has improved since this weekend, said Zhang Minghai, director of Zhangjiakou city’s Traffic Management Bureau general office.

Some drivers have been stuck in the jam for five days, China Central Television reported Tuesday. But Zhang said he wasn’t sure when the situation along the Beijing-Zhangjiakou highway would return to normal.

Original post resumes:

Although the people might not be stuck for nine days, they are stuck for long enough to want to eat and be entertained.  As in Korea, locals are willing to deliver those services:

Residents from communities alongside the expressway have seen opportunity in the traffic slowdown, setting up food and drink kiosks for the drivers.

Some drivers have complained of price gouging. One truck driver, identified by his last name Huang, told the Global Times that “instant noodles are sold at four times the original price while I wait in the congestion.

With the poor quality food and forced inactivity, I guess driving does cause obesity.

So, what could reduce traffic and make these jams either a thing of the past or a part of the scenery?

How about a bus that straddles traffic (photo from this link)?  This monster, a train in all but name, can hold over a thousand passengers

Though it is called the “straddling bus,” Huashi’s invention resembles a train in many respects — but it requires neither elevated tracks nor extensive tunneling. Its passenger compartment spans the width of two traffic lanes and sits high above the road surface, on a pair of fencelike stilts that leave the road clear for ordinary cars to pass underneath. It runs along a fixed route.

Huashi Future Parking’s outsize invention — six meters, or about 20 feet, wide — is to be powered by a combination of municipal electricity and solar power derived from panels mounted on the roofs of the vehicles and at bus stops.

I don’t know if the ‘solar power’ link will work after being cut-n-pasted from another site.  Here it is again.  Still, as with the new Prius, solar panels on the vehicle will probably never be more than a gimmick.  In the Prius, the solar panel powers a fan so you can keep cool with the engine off.  I would not expect better from the Chinese bus, even with the approving report of China’s solar panel production found in the former link.  I guess the solar panels aren’t a bad idea, it is merely so very limited.

However it is powered, I would travel to China just to ride such a bus.

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