When it first made the rounds of social media at least three months ago, accompanied by either scale mock-ups or concept videos, it was easy enough to dismiss the idea of a bus with an elevated body that allows cars to pass underneath it as a pipe dream that couldn’t possibly ever leave a PC 3D rendering. But China’s developing it, and when really motivated, they can definitely wow the world with the products of their imagination and tenacity.
Just this Tuesday August 2 a Chinese company has done the impossible by rolling out an actual fully working vehicle, the brainchild of their project to create a Transit Elevated Bus (TEB). Its unique design has its wheels and support frame on both sides of the road carrying its main body “elevated” from the road itself in order to let car traffic of two lanes just run through underneath it. A flight of fancy was somewhat successfully realized as the company put its prototype TEB through an initial test of its brakes and power consumption, according to the Chinese Xinhua News Agency.
The elegant looking beast is 72 feet in length, 25 feet across and 16 feet tall. It’s powered by electric motors and has a maximum passenger capacity of 300. Even better, several of these TEBs can be coupled together four at a time, creating a weird looking road locomotive that can run along a 40 miles an hour which it can maintain due to the fact that the other cars are just running along under everyone’s feet.
On paper that does seem like the perfect answer to China’s abysmal traffic woes. Wired.com however points out several problems on the TEB design itself. Due to its construction, its route can only go along mostly straight roads without the capacity to turn corners. The floor’s ground clearance is but 7 feet off the road, so while ordinary cars are no obstacle, SUVs with stuff on the roof might be in for a nasty scrape, and trucks are out of the question altogether. In addition, the fact that the bus body is elevated would by necessity require the construction of dedicated TEB terminals and drop-off points to load and unload the passengers. Furthermore, the calculated electrical consumption of just one TEB to maintain its 40mph speed is another pickle to tackle. And the Chinese manufacturer has come out to say that one unit might sell for $4.5 – which could roughly afford 11 non-emission regular sized buses already. The maintenance costs could well add to the hole in transit operators’ pockets.
Whether we will actually see this bad boy on China’s city streets years from now or not at all, we just have to give kudos to their gumption in making this dream come true. Heck, even Indonesia, India, Brazil and France have been inspired by this coup that they have gone to their own drawing boards with the idea. Time will tell if they can deliver too.
Photo Credit to www.indiatimes.com