And it isn't actually a bus, either.
We were all getting so excited about the Transit Elevated Bus (TEB), but according Chinese state media, we may have been getting ahead of ourselves.
To recap, the TEB straddles two lanes of road, travelling above the traffic. Sounds brilliant, a perfect solution to cutting congestion. But there are issues. It only provides 2.1 meters (about 6 feet 10 inches) of clearance, which means anything taller than a Range Rover won't fit. And it doesn’t look like it can turn even the slightest of corners. Then there’s the matter of how traffic enters and exits the lanes the TEB uses, and how to ensure they don’t stray out of position and into the path of the bus.
Though calling it a ‘bus’ may be wide of the mark. As it runs on rails which technically makes it a tram.
Regardless of these issues, a demonstration of the first prototype last staged last week by builder Jinchuang Corp., video of which left most who saw it mightily impressed. But questions are now being asked about the legitimacy of the whole project.
Firstly, that test, which wasn’t entirely what it appeared. It was staged on a 300-meter stretch of closed road and not an active highway, a point that was noted in some media coverage but one that was easily missed. Plus, according to Chinese state media, officials in the city of Qinhuangdao, where the test was held, didn’t actually know about it. However, TEB Technology Development Company’s chief engineer later claimed the test was only "internal," not the large-scale event it appeared to be in the coverage of it.
Moreover, images published by Car News China appear to show that the TEB ran on rubber tires, and that it was guided by gutters, not rails.
Then there’s the question of funding. According to Road & Track, two Chinese state media outlets are claiming that the whole TEB project is actually a scam. Money has been raised through peer-to-peer lending, in which an online company matches investors with borrowers. One such system was closed down by the Chinese government earlier this year, having been dubbed a "Ponzi scheme."
The TEB is just one in a very long line of ambitious urban transport solutions that have been touted over the decades. There are clearly engineering and infrastructure issues to overcome; add in alleged financial irregularities putting the Chinese government on the company's case and the future may be tricky for the TEB.