Don’t panic if there is a shadow coming on top of you while you’re driving on the road. If Chinese firm Transit Explore Bus has its way, that’ll be its ‘straddling bus’, the technology company’s latest attempt at easing traffic jams in China’s overpopulated cities.
The concept of a straddling bus, formally dubbed Transit Elevated Bus, is to allow cars to pass through underneath while the bus straddles traffic via an adjacent shoulder rail, carrying up to 300 people in the 72-feet long and 26-feet wide bus. The firm’s engineers said the TEB has the same function as the subway, but with a construction that is one-fifth cheaper.
The company tested the straddling bus on a 300-metre track in Qinhuangdao, a city in the north-east Hebei province early last month. Soon after the test, not only have concerns over actual operations and safety been quickly aroused (wild swerving by scared motorists, anyone?), but state media are alleging that the company may have misled investors and illegally crowdfunded the project.
With all the controversy brewing, will the project ever materialise? Well, maybe, but perhaps not quite as TEB intended it. When asked about its virtues, the Qinhuangdao government said it wasn’t really considering it as a transport project, but more like a “tourism attraction” instead.