Photos of the futuristic transit elevated bus TEB-1 conducting road test in north China's Qinhuangdao on August 2 have gone viral. The 22-meter-long, 7.8-meter-wide and 4.8-meter-high TEB-1 can carry up to 300 passengers, media reports say.
The authorities in Qinhuangdao city told People’s Daily on August 3 that they were not aware of the so-called “road test” that allegedly held in the city a day before. The chief engineer at TEB Technology Development Company, the firm behind the idea, said part of the TEB-1 still needs to be assembled, hence there’s “at least one more week ahead for the road test”. The firm later said the “road test” on August 2 was merely an “internal testing”.
The passenger compartment of this futuristic public bus rises far above other vehicles on the road, allowing cars to pass underneath. The idea that was supposed to solve the traffic problems many Chinese cities face was first raised in 2010. A short demonstration video released in last May at Beijing’s 19th International High-Tech Expo won the TEB firm attention from both home and abroad. Song Youzhou, the designer of the idea, says prototypes are being constructed, and that five cities — Nanyang, Qinhuangdao, Shenyang, Tianjin, and Zhoukou — have signed contracts with his TEB Technology Development Company for pilot projects.
Although the idea sounds superb, almost too good to be realistic, many questions still need to be answered about the feasibility of the straddling bus, most importantly how it is going to solve the safety issues that lots of experts have raised against it.
The height limit on Chinese roads is 4.5 meters tall, and many elevated roads in Chinese cities have height limit around 4.2 meters. Nonetheless, the designed height of the TEB-1 is 4.8 meters, with the room left beneath it for the cars to pass through being restricted to 2.1 meters and below. The figure is far much smaller than the national standard of height limit for smaller vehicles in China.
Moreover, the 1200 passengers TEB compartment can carry, together with the TEB-1 itself, will likely to generate a total of over 100 tons’ weight on roads, which most of the Chinese roads can’t hold up to.
Other safety concerns like the TEB blocking the road signs, and car drivers passing through the elevated bus won’t be able to change lanes, are yet to be answered. The applauses generated from the road test photos might be a bit too early.