Say hello to the Transit Elevated Bus (TEB), a 1,200-capacity tram-bus hybrid that could be the solution to China's traffic woes. Unveiled at the China Beijing International High-Tech Expo on 22 May, the TEB offers a unique approach to tackling China's notorious traffic jams by allowing passengers to glide over them.
The TEB is an electric-powered public transit system that runs on rails embedded in roads, much like a tram. The vehicle sits high enough off the ground so that other cars can pass beneath it safely, which will help to maximise China's already-limited road space. It's also environmentally-friendly, fuelled by electricity supplemented by solar panels embedded in the roof panels.
Meanwhile, passengers sitting in the carriages above are able to get swiftly from A to B. The 'hover bus' can carry a vast amount of people at once, making it a viable alternative to a subway system. It is also a heck of a lot cheaper to build, costing the fraction of a subway, and its designers claim it could be built in as little as 12 months.
Speaking to news channel CCTV, Bai Zhiming, the engineer in charge of the TEB project, said: "With a carrying capacity of 1,200 people at a time, the TEB has the same functions as the subway while its cost of construction is less than one fifth that of the subway. Its construction can be finished in one year."
Safety questions however remain. In particular, whether it will present any threat of potential collision with cars, cyclists and pedestrians as well as the height at which it will pass over vehicles. The scale model passed hair-raisingly close with no safety barriers in place, while high-sided vans, trucks and buses might also be problematic.
The first tests of the TEB are scheduled to take place in Qinhuangdao City, in northeast China's Hebei Province, in the second half of 2016. At the moment, it is looking like a far more feasible and far less expensive mode of transport than Elon Musk's much-talked-about Hyperloop.