Way back in 2010, a Chinese company unveiled a render of the Transit Elevated Bus: a tram-like, catamaran-style vehicle that rises up above a lane of traffic, straddling the cars beneath it. In May this year the company showed off a scale model of the bus; everyone started to get very excited. And on Tuesday, a full-size TEB prototype took its first ride in the northeastern Chinese city of Qinhuangdao, near Beijing.
The premise of the TEB is simple. It's a guided bus (i.e. it sticks to a predefined route) that is 4.8 metres high, 22 metres long, and 7.8 metres wide, with ground clearance of about 2.2 metres (7.2ft). Any vehicle that is short enough to pass under the TEB is free to do so, in theory significantly reducing congestion.
The TEB itself carries about 300 people and is powered by electricity at speeds of up to 60km/h (37mph). Larger, articulated models that can carry up to 1,200 passengers have been mooted. In China, where congestion is a major issue in large cities, the TEB is being pitched as a cheaper alternative to building subways (the initial 2010 report said that a 25-mile TEB track would cost a tenth of the equivalent subway).