Back in May, there were simulations and images of miniature models of a road-straddling half-bus half-tunnel colossus. The outlandish design looked like it could have stayed as computer-generated images forever. But now, the Chinese company behind the bus have gone ahead and built a full-scale prototype.
The Transit Elevated Bus, also known as the TEB-1, was unveiled on Tuesday in northern China's Hebei Province. This prototype is 22 meters (72 feet) long and 7.8 meters (25.6 feet) wide. At the grand opening, people were able to enter the carriage and view its spacious seating area. As far as public transport goes, it looks like a pretty nice ride, as long as you manage to forget about the traffic speeding beneath your feet. The presentation also featured a short test-run of the bus traveling down a 300-meter (985-feet) track at 10 kilometers (6 miles) per hour while two cars drove underneath it.
When fully up and running, the electric-powered bus will move a fair bit faster than this. It will be able to travel at 65 kilometers per hour (40 mph), all while holding 300 passengers and straddling the moving traffic below.
People experience the spacious interior of the TEB-1. Image credit: Xinhua News Agency/REX/Shutterstock
Special tracks for the TEB-1 are already being laid in Qinhuangdao in preparation for a larger scale test-run, where engineers will collect data and niggle out any issues with its braking system and power consumption.
It’s still early days, but the bus has been met with its fair share of both optimism and controversy. Some have been skeptical of how practical the bus actually is and how terrified its passengers and fellow road-users may be. Nevertheless, compared to building new underground subways or elevated highways, it's a considerably cheaper and less disruptive method to ease inner-city congestion. Since it was first previewed a few months ago, governments from Brazil, France, India, Indonesia, and numerous Chinese cities have already shown interest in the concept, according to Xinhua News Agency.