The first tests of a new public transport concept in China that involves a bus that ‘straddles’ traffic have taken place in Hebei province.
The concept was illustrated in model form earlier this year, but has already made it off the drawing board and into reality, with the first trial run taking place along a 300-metre section of road in the city of Qinhaungdao.
Although called a ‘straddling bus’, the vehicle actually travels along tracks that are laid down on either side of the road. The main passenger compartment of the bus – which is 25 feet wide and can carry up to 300 passengers – sits two metres above the road, allowing it to pass over the top of any congestion.
In service, it is expected to reach speeds of up to 60km/h and up to four of the electrically-powered Transit Elevated Bus (TEB) vehicles can be linked together to form a train.
Chief engineer on the project Song Youzhou explained to state-owned media outlet Xinhua earlier this year: “The biggest advantage is that the bus will save lots of road space”.
The company behind the scheme estimates that one TEB could replace up to 40 conventional buses, greatly reducing congestions on the country’s roads and allowing riders to reach their destinations much faster. However, it is not yet clear if or when the technology will be widely deployed.
One issue that will need to be addressed is the routing of the tracks. As the TEB has a fixed height and width, it will likely only be suitable for certain roads, where strict height restrictions will need to be enforced for other traffic.