China has unveiled a futuristic ‘straddling bus’ that’s capable of driving over other cars stuck in nightmarish traffic jams which has become a notoriety in many Chinese cities. When a video of a mini model of the so called Transit Elevated Bus (TEB) gliding over cars on the road hit the internet in late May this year, it caused great excitement. What was merely a concept has now become reality in just two months.
The prototype that was deployed on the streets of the north-eastern city of Qinhuangdao, about 300km east of Beijing, ran along a 300m-long strip of controlled track. The bus spans the width of two traffic lanes, and rides along two tracks laid on the edges of the two lanes attaining speeds up to 60kmph. The overall height of the bus is about 4.8 meters, while the clearance underneath is about 2 meters, allowing cars to comfortably pass under it. The Transit Elevated Bus can not only avoid traffic congestion, but also reduce it since a lot of jams are caused by regular buses loading and unloading at bus stops.
According to Song Youzhou, the project's chief engineer, one Transit Elevated Bus could replace 40 conventional buses. Moreover, up to four TEBs can be linked together to create a sort of tramway. A single bus along with 40km of guideway is estimated to cost about US$ 74.5 million to build which is one-tenth the cost of building an equivalent subway. The bus itself cost US$4.5 million to build, or about one-sixteenth the price of a subway train. The TEBs could also be rolled out far more quickly, compared to an underground train, since the supporting infrastructure is relatively simple.
The idea is not new though. It was originally proposed in 1969 by two American architects—Craig Hodgetts and Lester Walker—as a public transport concept called "The Bos-Wash Landliner" to run between Boston and New York. The Bos-Wash Landliner was a far more futuristic concept. It runs on nearly friction free air cushion bearings at 200 miles per hour, never stopping. Instead, a great claw arm descends from the landliner and picks up buses from the road underneath. The idea was too fantastic and too unreal to be actually developed, and it remained merely as an idea.
Also read: Guided Busways
The Bos-Wash Landliner
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