Update: Chinese elevated bus now abandoned, blocking road traffic


Transit Elevated Bus (TEB) - Image via China Xinhua News

Transit Elevated Bus (TEB) - Image via China Xinhua News

Enlarge Photo

Last week, the massive Chinese elevated bus whose renderings had rocketed around the Internet made its first test run.

The bus runs on rails embedded in the street, with room for cars to pass underneath it.

Officially known as the Transit Elevated Bus, or TEB-1, it carried its first passengers on a stretch of street in the city of Qinhuangdao, Hebei Province, in northern China.

DON'T MISS: Huge Chinese road-straddling elevated bus carries first passengers (video)

Tebtech, the company that designed and built the TEB-1, says governments in Brazil, France, and Indonesia have expressed interest in the massive vehicle.

But can such a bizarre vehicle actually be practical in the real world?

That's what the Chinese press is already asking, according to a summary of comments published by Agence France-Presse.

EDITOR'S NOTE: We first published this article in August 2016, under the title, "Is the elevated Chinese bus really practical? Could it work?"

The answer appears to be "no," as Shanghaiist reports that the straddling bus is now abandoned, gathering dust under a partially open metal building, and is presently blocking traffic on its test road—exacerbating the traffic jams it was designed to alleviate.

Transit Elevated Bus (TEB) - Image via China Xinhua News

Transit Elevated Bus (TEB) - Image via China Xinhua News

Enlarge Photo

Following the first test last Tuesday, a flurry of articles questioning the project's feasibility were reported published in China—including some from government-controlled media outlets.

One major potential  issue is the TEB-1's size.

The elevated bus measures 72 feet (22 meters)  long, 26 feet (7.8 meters) wide, and 16 feet (4.8 meters) tall.

It may allow cars to pass underneath, but the bus will still block intersections, the reports note.

The vehicle is also likely too tall to pass under the many pedestrian bridges that cross Chinese city streets—or to pass through tunnels.

The fact that only regular sedans and hatchbacks are seemingly able to pass under the bus also limits its utility somewhat.

Transit Elevated Bus (TEB) - Image via China Xinhua News

Transit Elevated Bus (TEB) - Image via China Xinhua News

Enlarge Photo

In a video of the bus, there appears to be very little clearance between car roofs and the bottom of the passenger compartment, precluding commercial vans and other taller vehicles.

In addition to design issues, the financing behind the TEB-1 has also come under scrutiny.

The project is tied to online credit firm Huaying Kailai, which was placed under "strict surveillance" last year by the government, according to Chinese financial magazine Caixin.

MORE: China mulls congestion charge, quotas in Beijing for emission, traffic woes

With luck, many of the questions surrounding the TEB-1 project can be answering with further testing and perhaps an actual launch.

It seems most suited to new cities or those just now being built—of which China has dozens—rather than retrofitting into existing urban environments.

Meanwhile, it continues to generate lots of interest from the public, meaning it is likely to continue to make Internet headlines.

[hat tip: Denis Arcand]

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