China's straddling bus project scrapped

The Transit Elevated Bus was said to obstruct traffic at the trial site and pose safety concerns by limiting the view of drivers beneath it .
The Transit Elevated Bus was said to obstruct traffic at the trial site and pose safety concerns by limiting the view of drivers beneath it .PHOTO: XINHUA TWITTER

BEIJING •The ambitious "straddling bus" project - an elevated bus that allows cars to pass underneath - has hit a red light less than a year after it started trial runs.

The test site of the futuristic-looking bus in the city of Qinhuangdao in Hebei province is being dismantled and will be demolished by the end of the month, the state-run China News Service reported. The bus had gone through trial runs on its 300m test track from August to October last year.

Measuring 22m-long, 7.8m-wide and 4.8m-high, each bus can carry up to 300 passengers and up to four buses can be linked together. The electrically-powered bus, known as Transit Elevated Bus (TEB), arcs over two lanes of traffic, allowing cars no higher than 2m to drive under it. It can travel at speeds of up to 60kmh.

The giant bus was touted as having the potential to alleviate China's notorious traffic jams. Mr Song Youzhou, who designed the bus, had estimated that it could reduce traffic congestion in cities by as much as 30 per cent.

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However, the bus has been mired in controversies since its launch. Critics had questioned its technical feasibility and practical application, as well as the financial health of TEB Technology, which developed it.

 
 

Residents living near the test site had also complained that it obstructed traffic.

The straddling bus would have difficulty making turns, said transportation professor Sun Zhang from Tongji University in Shanghai, who was quoted in The South China Morning Post. Moreover, motorists driving under it could face risks due to limited road vision.

"It can run on only wide and straight roads," he told the Post, adding that big cities usually have winding and congested roads.

TEB Technology's contract to use the test site expires next month but the Beidaihe District government has refused its appeal to extend the contract, said China News Service.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 23, 2017, with the headline 'China's straddling bus project scrapped'. Print Edition | Subscribe