China’s Road-Straddling Bus Takes a Test Drive

China’s Road-Straddling Bus Takes a Test Drive

Earlier this year, civil engineers at the 19th China Beijing International High-Tech Expo unveiled plans for an innovative space-saving bus that rides above traffic rather than alongside it. It’s called the Transit Elevated Bus (TEB), and its unique design quickly gained a great deal of notoriety online. While some transit experts praised the bus’s road-straddling construction, others argued that it was merely a conceptual design that could never materialize into a real vehicle.

At the time, the TEB’s engineering time had nothing but a miniature scale model to demonstrate their invention. Now, just a few months later, a full-size TEB has taken its inaugural test drive in Qinhuangdao, Hebei province. The test drive was conducted in a controlled trial that didn’t exactly mimic normal driving conditions, but it did at least prove that the TEB could, in fact, be driven on a real roadway. The test drive consisted of a 300 meter run with one TEB bus carriage. Ultimately, the TEB’s designers plan to connect four of the carriages together so that a single bus could carry as many as 1,200 passengers. In addition to its one-of-a-kind design, the TEB is also unique in that it’s powered by a fully-electric drivetrain.

Even on a brief test run, watching the behemoth bus roll down the road while cars travel underneath it is an impressive sight. It’s hard to say if and when the bus will become commonplace on China’s roadways, but for now you can see the bus in action in this video of its first test run!

 

Chinese Engineers Debut Innovative Space-Saving Bus Design

Chinese Engineers Debut Innovative Space-Saving Bus Design

Here in America, many cities have begun embracing bus rapid transit systems as fast, cost-effective alternatives to subways. In China, meanwhile, engineers are taking a very different approach to modern bus transit. It’s called the Transit Elevated Bus (TEB), and it debuted earlier this month at the 19th China Beijing International High-Tech Expo.

As its name suggests, the TEB’s passenger rides above traffic, rather than alongside of it. Its massive frame straddles cars, allowing them to pass underneath it without disrupting the flow of traffic. With its sleek lines and unusual form factor, the TEB looks distinctly futuristic.

Civil engineers in China hope that the TEB could allow them to bring the convenience of a subway system to cities at a fraction of the cost. Because it can carry hundreds of passengers and doesn’t require devoted lanes, TEB has the potential to be even more cost-effective than bus rapid transit systems.

“With a carrying capacity of 1,200 people at a time, the TEB has the same functions as the subway while its cost of construction is less than one fifth of the subway. Its construction can be finished in one year,” said Bai Zhiming, chief engineer of the TEB project.

Of course there are still some significant practical hurdles to overcome before the TEB hits the streets. First and foremost, drivers will likely need some time to acclimate to the idea of driving underneath enormous, highway-straddling buses. This will mean city planners will have to be careful about where they choose to implement the first TEB systems.

The engineers behind the TEB project hope to begin trial operations in Qinhaungdao City in the second half of 2016. You can check out a demonstration of the TEB in the video below!

 

New Highway Bill Aims to Repair Crumbling Infrastructure

New Highway Bill Aims to Repair Crumbling Infrastructure

Over the course of the past decade, industry analysts have become increasingly concerned about the troubled state of America’s transit infrastructure. Earlier this year, for example, the American Road & Transportation Builders Association released a report that identified 61,000 bridges as “structurally deficient.” In an effort to address concerns such as these, the Obama Administration signed a new five-year, $305 billion highway bill into law early last month. It’s known as the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, and it’s the first major long-term highway bill to be passed in over a decade.
 

What it Means for Mass Transit

 
Of the $305 billion included in the bill, $48.7 has been allotted to repair and update the country’s mass transit systems. A large portion of this will likely be devoted to fixing an ailing rail system that has troubled the shipping industry in recent years. The FAST Act also includes legislation that makes it easier for city officials to make decisions regarding their local transit infrastructure. With the adoption of this new bill, there will (in theory) be less red tape for local transit authorities to cut through when trying to update mass transit systems or offer alternative forms of transportation such as bike lanes and car sharing programs.
 

So Where is That $305 Billion Coming From?

 
The Fast Act has the potential make some big improvements on the country’s transit system, but some legislators and economists are worried about how the funding for those improvements is being sourced. Some of the funding will be generated by selling oil from the Strategic Oil Reserve. Even more worrisome, however, is the fact that some of the funds will come directly from a Federal Reserve account. Technically speaking, Congress doesn’t have access to that money. Perhaps in an effort to preserve the country’s essential traffic infrastructure, the designers of the bill were willing to bend the rules a little (or a lot, as the case may be). After spending years trying unsuccessfully to bandage America’s aging transit infrastructure, it seems desperate times are calling for desperate measures.