Sign In
Starting block | © Carlos ZGZ, Flikr
Starting block | © Carlos ZGZ, Flikr
Save to wishlist

China's New Elevated Bus: The Future Of Transport Or An Elaborate Hoax?

Picture of Sally Gao
Updated: 12 July 2017
The future of transit? A Chinese company claims to have developed an elevated “straddling bus” that glides above two lanes of traffic without impeding the cars below, but Chinese media harbor suspicions about the veracity of these claims.

A Beijing-based company named Transit Explore Bus (TEB) made Chinese and Western media headlines by unveiling its test run of their first straddle bus prototype. At 22 meters long, 7.8 meters wide, and 4.8 meters high, each compartment has a spacious interior that can hold up to 300 passengers at a time. Watch footage of the test run below:

TEB claims to be planning pilot projects in five cities across China — Qinhuangdao, Shenyang, Tianjin, Nanyang, and Zhoukou. If their claims are true, this technology would be an ingenious way to cut down on emissions and tackle congestion in populous Chinese cities. It would also purportedly be much cheaper than a subway system.

But is this all too good to be true? A couple of days after the social media frenzy surrounding the prototype, members of the media have started voicing doubts about the veracity of the story.

Firstly, the electrically-powered bus is supposed to run along a set of rails embedded on either side of the street. This raises the first set of questions: how will the bulky bus compartments be able to make turns? How much power does it consume, and how and where will be recharged?

Questions about safety also remain unaddressed. How will TEB deal with existence of pedestrian overpasses or large trucks? What happens if a car crashes into the TEB?

Journalists have slammed the “test run” video, pointing out that the bus travelled all of 300 meters and completely failed to simulate real-life traffic conditions. Rumors are flying that the entire video is a hoax concocted by TEB with the aim of scamming potential investors.

Unless TEB resurfaces with definitive proof that the straddling bus is real, we should remain skeptical rather than excited.