China’s Road-Straddling Super-Bus Is Up and Running

New form of mass transit tip-toes over traffic with ease.

China Straddle Bus
Luo Xiaoguang/Xinhua via AP

The world of mass transit took another step into the 21st Century on Tuesday, when China's road-straddling super-bus embarked upon its maiden voyage, just as its chief engineer promised back in May.

According to the Xinhua News Agency of China, the finished prototype of the Transit Elevated Bus, or TEB-1, stretches almost 73 feet long and nearly 26 feet wide, giving it enough room to transport as many as 300 people at once. More importantly, at almost 16 feet tall, TEB-1 has enough space under its belly to allow multiple lanes of traffic to flow beneath it, allowing cars to pass by freely. (Not trucks, though; earlier estimates pegged the under-body clearance at less than seven feet, and the images of the finished prototype seem to bear that out.) Passengers embark and depart via elevated platforms mounted flush with the bus's passenger cabin.

For now, the road-straddling super-bus is just a full-scale prototype, restricted to a roughly-1,000 foot-long stretch of street in the northern Chinese city of Qinhuangdao. When fully implemented, however, the team behind TEB-1 envisions linked trains of the vehicles carrying around 1,200 people at speeds of up to 37 miles per hour, all while newly-legalized Didi Chuxings and limited-edition Ferraris zip past below.

If the trial run proves successful, these tall buses may not be restricted to China's cities, either. Xinhua claims governments from France, Brazil, India, and Indonesia are already expressing interest in the vehicles. And if New York City's Second Avenue Subway winds up being delayed again for the umpteenth time, we in the Big Apple might do well to join the list of interested parties.

You can check out the TEB-1 prototype in (very, very slow) action in the video below.