Local govt claims elevated bus is for tourism, not transport

By Jin Dan(chinadaily.com.cn)
Updated: 2016-08-05 17:16:43

The transit elevated bus TEB-1 is on road test in Qinhuangdao, North China's Hebei Province, Aug 2, 2016.[Photo/Xinhua]

The futuristic public bus TEB-1 is just for tourism rather than for transport, local authorities said Friday in Qinhuangdao, North China's Hebei province, where the elevated bus took its first road test on Tuesday.

The concept of elevating the carriage above the road to allow vehicles zip pass underneath it drew much attention when it was first unveiled during Beijing International High-tech Expo in May. The 22-meter-long TEB-1 tested on Tuesday, which again put the vehicle under spotlight, is a prototype of the four-compartment bus.

As it seemingly moved one step closer to reality, its feasibility was seriously questioned online and several media reports even claimed that it was nothing but a gimmick to sell fund-raising products.

Amid the whirlwind of controversy and heated discussion, Zhai Wen, head of transport division of the municipal development and reform commission of Qinhuangdao, told China National Radio that the road test of TEB-1 was just for tourism.

The test was approved on a 300-meter part of a dead-end highway near Beidaihe village, said Zhai.

Dong Xin, one of those who experienced the test, expressed his disappointment to CNR, saying that TEB-1 only ran about 50 meters at a slow speed and they felt too hot in its enclosed carriage as air-conditioning system was not turned on.

Dong's remark added to the doubts about TEB's feasibility.

The full version of the bus will reportedly be 60-meter-long, 7.8-meter-wide and 4.8-meter-high and capable of carrying 1,200 to 1,400 passengers and run at an average speed of 40 km/h, according to its maker TEB Tech's official website. It is advertised as a solution to traffic congestion as its passenger compartment rises far above other vehicles on the road, allowing cars to pass underneath.

However, senior engineer in automotive engineering development at prestigious Tsinghua University expressed doubt as such a huge vehicle will need to move slowly in case it needs to apply emergency brakes.

Other limitations stated by transport experts such as Yang Tao, head of Nanjing Institute of City and Transport Planning, include current traffic facilities and the well-defined traffic rules.

According to China's design code for road construction the general height limit for vehicles is 4.5 meter while the under-bridge height limit on main road is 4.2 meter. So to make TEB a reality, it would result in costly consequences as pedestrian bridges and overpasses would have to be removed or rebuilt to make way for it. Meanwhile, many things like overhead wires, lamp posts, road signs and traffic cameras all would have to be relocated higher.

Letting other vehicles run underneath means these vehicles will find it hard to change directions or change lanes. And if the TEB needs to take U-turn, then that means all other vehicles will have to stop and make way for it.

As TEB is not transparent, drivers beneath it may not see road signs clearly, and height limitation underneath the TEB as 2 meters may cause psychological problems for drivers, said experts.

Other safety concerns also sparked heated discussion.

TEB is over-weight for current roads as it would reportedly weigh over 100 tons when full-loaded with 1,200 passengers.

And it is impossible for TEB to make a turn with its long carriage. Almost no current road junctions are vast enough for it to turn around safely.

The power supply system of TEB is designed to be installed on two edges of its carriage other than in the middle as what is applicable on the tramcars, which can't guarantee its safety and stability.

More terrifyingly, it's hard for passengers to escape from its elevated carriage in case of fire and other accidents.

Apart from the technical application, the entity which really runs TEB Tech is another target of attacks.

TEB Tech shares the same chairman with a P2P asset management company Huayingkailai, a subordinate of the Huaying Group.

It has been widely reported that Huaying Group raised private equity in the name of TEB. Its Nanjing branch was reportedly involved in illegal fund-raising last year, a charge rejected by spokesman of Huaying Group.

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