From an American perspective, China can look like a very strange place. While the Asian country has absorbed many Western traits into its culture, China is still different in many ways. I experienced this recently when I came across news of a new public transit vehicle being tested in China. The vehicle’s technically known as the Transit Elevated Bus (TEB) and it’s colloquially referred to as the “Straddling Bus,” due to the way it straddles the roads it moves over.
The TEB looks like a quasi-futuristic people mover that actually travels above the road on elevated walls that glide along a predefined track. In reality, the “Straddling Bus” isn’t really a bus at all. It’s more like a train. Whatever you call it, busses and trains aren’t likely to elicit that much excitement in 2016. But the TEB’s appeal comes from the way it moves over traffic, allowing cars to pass underneath. In the right setting, a TEB could be an extremely practical public transit solution, requiring less space (and in turn expense) than subways or elevated railways.
The company that designed and built the first TEB prototype actually took the vehicle out for a short test drive on a public street in Qinhuangdao. The event was attended by a decent-sized crowd, some of whom even got to ride aboard the vehicle.
But over the next few days, reports began to surface that the TEB and the company behind it were nothing more than a scam:
…Several state media outlets have published articles alleging that the company in charge of developing the TEB crowdfunded their project illegally and misled investors.
Despite the hype surrounding the trial run, both domestic and abroad, it seems that the company may have blown the occassion out of proportion. Not only was the test run just 300 meters long and completely failed to mimic real-life traffic conditions, but authorities in Qinhuangdao city also were not aware of it even happening, People’s Daily reports. The firm later verified that it wasn’t a “road test,” but simply part of “internal testing.”
It looks like the Straddling Bus has gone as quickly as it arrived. Perhaps another enterprising transit company will pick up where the first TEB left off. Anything’s possible in China.