China has abruptly abandoned plans to build straddling bus, an elevated vehicle which cruises over the tops of cars on the road, after the idea was found to be impractical. Workers have begun dismantling the test site for the Transit Elevated Bus (TEB), a futuristic hollow-bellied bus- train hybrid which stands two metres above the road, and will demolish it by the end of the month, state-run China News Service has reported. The widely-hyped vehicle in the city of Qinhuangdao in Hebei province went through trial runs on its 300-metre test track last year from August to October. But less than a year after its debut, the giant vehicle – which is now covered in dust – will be moved to a nearby parking lot for next steps, Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post quoted an unnamed local official as saying. Contract between the developer and the local government will expire in July and the request for renewal has been rejected. The local government did not publicly comment.
Despite being hailed as the “future of public transportation” and a solution to air pollution, the TEB’s trial process was dogged by difficulties and controversies. Local residents complained last December that the straddling bus was a traffic obstacle. The project’s feasibility was also challenged, as some local news outlets reported that its developer, an asset management company, may have misled investors who backed the enterprise.
Sun Zhang, a transportation professor at Tongji University in Shanghai, told the South China Morning Post that the straddling bus would encounter difficulty navigating turns, while motorists driving beneath it could face risks from limited road vision. “It can only run on wide and straight roads. In big cities where roads are winding and jammed (with traffic), such roads are in short supply,” he said.