We all know how horrible public transportation is in Jax … and how little anyone seems to do about improving infrastructure to make traffic less of a nightmare. But, there’s one possible solution on the table now — an elevated bus that straddles the road to pass over the top of regular traffic. While it sounds like something out of a terrible science fiction movie, it’s actually a concept that’s been floating around for decades. Now, it exists in China, and it’s sort of awesome.
It’s designed like a giant moving bridge, gliding effortlessly across the city on rails without blocking traffic or getting caught up in rush hour. It was built to hold 300 passengers and can help significantly reduce traffic congestion without any need to build new roads or other infrastructure. It also happens to be electric and will recharge at each bus stop. The environmental impact of replacing several diesel fueled buses with one electric vehicle could be extremely beneficial.
Costing an estimated $75 million, it was an ambitious project, but it actually ended up costing less than it would have to dig a whole new subway system. Obviously, there are geological complications involved in digging tunnels in Florida that makes a subway system out of the realm of possibility for Jacksonville. Our only real means of transport is via roads. Roads which seem to be constantly under construction, always being “improved” but never actually seeming to improve.
We have city buses running regularly, but they’re slow and inefficient, especially when they stop every 20 feet and cause traffic to stop or slow down each time they pull on and off the main roadway. It can take up to two hours to ride a city bus across Jacksonville, a journey that might otherwise take just 20 to 30 minutes by car.
World's first transit elevated bus, TEB-1 on its launching test Tuesday in Qinhuangdao, N China's Hebei pic.twitter.com/yMepYWD1kD
— China Xinhua News (@XHNews) August 2, 2016
In an urban landscape so hopelessly clogged with vehicles and a population that is rapidly growing every year, what options are out there to resolve our traffic nightmare before it gets worse? You can only build so many highways and tangle so many overpasses across each other. It takes significant time and money to keep building and maintaining more roads. $75 million one time to build one crazy bus doesn’t sound like so much when you realize that the budget for the next five years of FDOT maintenance and construction projects is more than $44 billion.
It makes sense to take a risk on a venture like this, even if it seems a little wild. It could have real benefits to us, the taxpayers and commuters, as well as to the government. We live in the future, it’s time to get creative to solve our problems. Plus, seriously … look at this thing. It would be fun as hell to take a ride on!