Urban Transport

Full-scale straddling bus hits the road in China

Full-scale straddling bus hits the road in China
The Elevated Transit Bus on the street in Qinhuangdao, China
The Elevated Transit Bus on the street in Qinhuangdao, China
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The Elevated Transit Bus on the street in Qinhuangdao, China
The Elevated Transit Bus on the street in Qinhuangdao, China

A couple of months back, when a full-scale prototype of China's bizarre bestriding bus was promised for July, we didn't actually expect to see one on the road so soon. Well the wheels are starting to turn on this extraordinary traffic and pollution solution, with Beijing company Transit Explore Bus (TEB) rolling the electric vehicle onto the streets in China's north to kick off the first phase of testing.

When it comes to ideas to ease congestion and air pollution, few seem more audacious than the Elevated Transit Bus (ETB). The electric vehicle spreads itself across two traffic lanes and travels along tracks on either side of the road, allowing cars up to 2 meters (6.6 ft) tall to pass underneath.

It can travel at up to 60 km/h (37.2 mph) with passengers hopping on and off by way of ramps that fold outwards when the bus reaches a stop. Reportedly, the ETB could replace up to 40 conventional buses, save 800 tons of fuel and 2,480 tons of carbon emissions each year, all at around 16 percent of the cost of a subway.

Transit Explore Bus demonstrated a small functioning model of the ETB at the China Beijing International High-Tech Expo (CHITEC) in May, rehashing an idea chief engineer Song Youzhou had floated six years earlier. Song said at the time that a full-scale version was in the works and would begin testing in July or August. But with much time having passed since the original concept and little apparent progress towards its materialization, these resurrected transit plans were treated with a touch of skepticism.

But here we are. The TEB-1 took to a test track in Qinhuangdao in China's Hebei Province, on August 2. This allowed for testing of the braking system, along with drag and power consumption. The test bus does stretch over two lanes of traffic, though the model is only long enough for 300 passengers – the company imagines TEBs eventually carrying as many as 1,400. But from a toy-like model to showing off a life-size, functional version in the space of a couple of months is some exciting progress.

China Xinhua News reports that the TEB has already received interest from governments in Brazil, France, India and Indonesia.

Update August 8: Since news emerged of these tests, more than one Chinese media outlet has claimed that the TEB project is actually a scam to extract funds from investors. It has also been reported that authorities in the city of Qinhuangdao were not aware of the test, indicating that the trials were conducted internally, rather than on public roads. New Atlas has reached out to Transit Explore Bus for clarification and will update this story if more information comes to light.

Source: Xinhuanet

I'd love to see some video footy of this thing rolling!
1,400 passengers. Guess they are expecting a big turnout.
It still has to stop at intersections like a regular bus/tram. You could run it on elevated rails, but then why not just build a regular elevated railway?
Also the turning radius does not look that great, so it could probably not go everywhere that regular buses can.
In addition, it still has to stop at every stop, making anything other than a short journey very slow. Why not build a proper PRT system instead?
Free credit from the state to increase the economy leads to this sort of monsters ...
The value of 2 meters beneath it is very limiting. Cars can have galleys and utility vehicles are numerous in cities. And cars tends to be higher and higher.
The need of specila ways and platform will anyway be a big investment.
On the contrary, this system will have a need for a big vertical clearance. This is maybe why they limited the height beneath it contrary to the first videos.
The way people drive in China will also have to change. I mean, in the UK, this would not work because people drive with head up somewhere I can't mention here. Situational awareness means nothing to most people. The windscreen is usually the focus of attention -aside from wireless tech like phones and other gadgets distracting drivers. Still, at least there will be plenty of witnesses to the accidents.
alan c
I can't see anything practical here: Lorries, buses, vans and cars with roof loads won't fit. The structures carrying the wheels need roadspace equivalent to about one lane. The "station" with steps and platform takes up valuable city space. It won't negotiate sharp bends and hills commonly found on roads. Four buses carry the same load with no infrastructure cost.
After visiting China recently I couldn't help notice that public transport was out of this world. Chinese are very good at moving people. Mind you they have to be with 1.3 billion of them. I think this new people mover shows just how committed they are to not only move people around. But also by using this new bus people should leave there cars at home, and take the bus to work or wherever. Also it will cut the pollution problem the Chinese have at present by quite a bit. Good on the Chinese to show the world it can be done. I look forward to going to China again and ride on this masterpiece in the not to distant future by the looks!
That's pretty cool looking. And inventive.
I see a Bond movie, or some action flick doing a high speed drive under chase scene...
It'll work great, till someone with a 6'7" car tries the same high speed maneuver.
Either way, it'll make for some good film. (You know they put a camera on that thing) Go Pro Ninja chase scene... sweet!
This has potential, but not in the way they are developing it. You could make a 'loop' journey on a single track if the height was adjustable and effectively double the transport on a single track. So have a dedicated single track, but have all vehicles travelling in one direction in the 'elevated' position, and all vehicles travelling in the opposite direction in the 'lowered' position. (the individual tracks could be 'v' shaped to allow for the wheels to pass)
We have to consider the constraints leading to this design: - An dense urban area with no space for a dedicated ground level rail line. - Not even enough space for the thick pillars of an elevated railway. - Cannot be subject to gridlock, so buses and trolleys are out. Reliable moderate speed is all that is required. - Must be an order of magnitude less expensive than elevated or underground railway. I believe that is the starting point for this design, which aims to answer those questions. Obviously the devil is in the details, and we all know the details can postpone a project indefinitely, and sometimes not. It looks pretty cool to me.