China’s New Futuristic Commuter Bus

Several months after its design was unveiled to the public, China’s massive elevated bus concept is now real.

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The 4.8-meter-high (15.75-foot) electric bus has its carriage elevated off the ground, allowing what appears to be two lanes of cars to pass under it. The new bus technology made its debut Tuesday during a road test in Qinhuangdao, China, the BBC reports—and it’s truly the stuff of the future.

The TEB, also known as the “straddling bus,” got its nickname because its design—which spans 72 feet long and 25 feet wide— doesn’t require elevated tracks or underground tunneling. Instead, it simply straddles the traffic below, allowing cars beneath to drive uninterrupted.

The Chinese government showed a prototype running on the roads in the port city of Qinhuangdao, that will be part of a pilot trial to run for the next few months.

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If successful, the vehicle will add a mode of mass transit to many of China’s congested cities. Since it’s elevated, it is meant to make minimal disruption to road traffic, and comes without the additional cost of laying infrastructure that a subway system would require.

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The electric-powered bus is expected to accommodate up to 300 passengers, or the equivalent of 40 conventional buses. Its operation has the potential to cut carbon emissions by almost 2,500 tons, the project’s chief engineer Song Youzhou told Xinhua news agency in May. The bus is expected to reach speeds of up to 60 kilometers, or 37 miles, per hour.

Song’s idea for the project was introduced in 2010. A working scale model was first unveiled in May at the 19th annual China Beijing International High-Tech Expo.

In addition to easing traffic on the road, the project also aims to alleviate China’s air pollution problems.

The Chinese firm behind the bus, tebtech, claims that an impressive list of countries like Nigeria, Brazil, Mexico, Spain, France and Indonesia have already expressed interest in licensing a similar vehicle from it.

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