This just in from the Future of Transit bureau: China's space-age "straddling bus" is on the road and currently being tested in the port city of Qinhuangdao.
The innovative Transit Elevated Bus (TEB) made a huge splash just a couple of months ago when Chinese officials unveiled computer designs and full-scale model at a tech expo. The so-called straddling bus does just that -- straddling traffic below with a passenger compartment elevated about five meters off the road. When in motion, the TEB looks like a kind of moving tunnel.
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Technically, the TEB is a train -- it runs on rails laid along the side of the roadway. Cars can pass underneath whether the bus is moving or has stopped to load and unload passengers.
According to the designers, the TEB can run at speeds of up to 60 kilometers-per-hour and carry around 300 passengers at a time. Extra-wide versions would have a capacity of up to 1,400 passengers. Computer models suggests that, if an efficient system can be developed, a single TEB vehicle could replace up to 40 conventional buses in crowded urban locations.
The Chinese news agency Xinhua reports that the TEB-1 vehicle currently operating in Qinhuangdao is 22 meters long, 7.8 meters wide and 4.8 meters high. For current testing purposes, the bus is limited to a 300-meter-long track.
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As an all-electric mass transit option, the TEB would reduce fuel consumption and carbon emissions while providing an innovative solution for China's urban traffic problems, according to designers.
The idea of an elevated bus is not new. Chinese engineers have been pursuing the TEB concept since at least 2010 and the basic concept dates back to the 1960s. If China's system proves feasible, officials hope for large-scale deployment in selected cities within 10 years.