The futuristic Chinese traffic-straddling bus which has received so much hype may prove to be useless and impractical.
China tested Wednesday its Transit Elevated Bus (TEB), which is 72.2 feet long, 25.6 feet wide, and can carry up to 300 passengers, in Qinhuangdao, Hebei.
Initially considered a major breakthrough, the TEB may have too many problems to be practical in the real world.
One, while it’s is 16 feet tall, it has a ground clearance of only 7 feet, which means that large trucks will be unable to pass underneath.
Two, the bus can’t turn, which means that it can only be introduced on major highways and expressways, and since there is no way out from under the bus, people will have a hard time accessing their exits.
Three, repair is not easy. When a regular bus breaks down, other buses will come along, pick up passengers, and keep things moving, but that will not be possible with this. Were this bus, which is essentially a train, to encounter a problem, you could end up with several hundred passengers stranded along a major roadway.
Four, the new TEB just isn’t worth the cost. In May, the producers of the TEB revealed that each bus costs about $4.5 million, which is one-sixteenth the cost of a subway train but still far more expensive than other more effective transportation alternatives. The money for one TEB could buy 11 emissions-free buses. David Clarke, a civil engineer at the University of Tennessee, argues that a Bus Rapid Transit system could achieve the same ends for less.
Perhaps the biggest problem is that the TEB development program in China could be smoke and mirrors for a major scam. The Global Times recently released a post on Weibo suggesting that the impracticality and sources of funding for the new traffic-straddling bus indicate that this project might actually be a peer-to-peer scam designed to fool investors.
The idea for the elevated bus was first proposed by a pair of architects in New York City in 1969. The “Landliner,” as it was called, would have run between Washington and Boston.
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