Getting stuck in a traffic jam can appear to be a huge problem, especially when you’re late or in hurry.Â However, Chinese engineers have come up with a brilliant idea. They introduced and have already conducted a test drive ofÂ the country’s Transit Elevated Bus (TEB).
World's first transit elevated bus, TEB-1 on its launching test Tuesday in Qinhuangdao, N China's Hebei pic.twitter.com/yMepYWD1kD
— China Xinhua News (@XHNews) August 2, 2016
The electric busÂ was designed to resolve gridlock problems by letting passengers soar over the tops of cars on theÂ increasingly-congested roads of China’s major cities.
The futuristic locomotive, which looks like a moving tunnel,Â is designed for capacity and efficiency, not necessarily for speed. Today the novelty debuted inÂ Qinhuangdao, Hebei province.
Sure, itsÂ ultimate capacity (it only transversed a controlled track of just 300 meters) wasn’t demonstrated, thoughÂ itâs a proof of concept beyond anything weâve seen before.
The test drive took place onÂ a 300 metre-long controlled track, separate from road traffic. AÂ 72-foot-long vehicle is promised to host upÂ to 300 passengers, and up to four TEB carsÂ can be linked together – although only one was used for its first public outing.
âThe biggest advantage is that the bus will save lots of road space,â said Song Youzhou, the projectâs chief engineer, in an interview with news agencyÂ XinhuaÂ earlier this year.
“Itâs built extra wide to carry up to 1,400 passengers, and extra tall to allow any cars under seven feet to travel underneath, whether the bus is in motion or not. This is important because, as a public transport vehicle, the bus would stop and start frequently to load and unload passengers. And, with a top speed of 40 miles per hour, restless drivers would undoubtedly want to pass through,” writes Digital Trends.
“The bus may also help cities become more environmentally friendly. Its size would allow it to replace 40 conventional buses and, since itâs powered by electricity, the design would reduce fuel consumption by some 800 tons and carbon emissions by nearly 2,500 tons every year.”
The concept was first released back in 2010Â and then again last May at Beijingâs 19th International High-Tech Expo. Song Youzhou, the designer of the futuristic vehicle, told reporters thatÂ prototypes are being constructed, and that five cities â Nanyang, Qinhuangdao, Shenyang, Tianjin, and Zhoukou â have already signed up for pilot projects.
The ideaÂ of straddling buses first came to two talented American architects, Lester Walker and Craig Hodgetts, in 1969.
The concept seemed to be extremelyÂ ambitious, even by todays standards, including computer-driven vehicles, perpetual motion, and âfriction-free air cushion bearingsâ as wheels. Walker and Hodgetts expected the solution toÂ modernize New York City.
ToÂ those still skeptical about the straddling bus, Song told Xinhua that a full-scale model of is currently being built in Changzhou, China and will be tested by August. If all goes well, the design may help curb the carbon emissions created by approximately 20 million new drivers who take to the road in China every year.
Of course, there’re still many questions to ask about feasibility of the straddling bus, most importantly how it wonât cause many, many traffic deaths. The prototype that was launched in Qinhuangdao this week will hopefully help answer some of those concerns.