China unveils spectacular ‘straddling’ bus to beat traffic jams

A Beijing company has unveiled spectacularly futuristic designs for a pollution-busting, elevated bus capable of gliding over the nightmarish mega-jams for which urban China has become notorious.

Plans for the so-called Transit Explore Bus or TEB were showcased earlier this month at a technology expo in the Chinese capital.

The “straddling bus”, which owes more to Blade Runner than China’s car-clogged highways, is supported by two legs that run along rails laid along the roadside.

Those legs allow the TEB’s giant frame to glide high above the gridlock at speeds of up to 60km per hour. Equally, vehicles that are less than two metres high will be able to drive freely underneath the bus, even when it is stationary.

“The biggest advantage is that the bus will save lots of road space,” Song Youzhou, the project’s chief engineer, told Xinhua, China’s official news agency.

Song claimed his buses, capable of transporting up to 1,400 commuters, could be produced for 20% of the price of an underground train and rolled out far more quickly since the supporting infrastructure was relatively simple.

One TEB could replace 40 conventional buses, he said.

A prototype will reportedly be deployed on the streets of Qinhuangdao, a coastal city about 300km east of Beijing, this summer.

The project has been greeted with anticipation in China, where traffic jams have grown as the country overtook the United States to become the largest car market on earth in 2009.

Last year alone 21.1 million passenger cars were sold here.

However, excitement over the innovation was tempered by the fact that a virtually identical contraption was unveiled at the same expo in 2010 without catching on.

Its designer? A Chinese engineer by the name of Song Youzhou.

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