week, a futuristic traffic-straddling bus, raised over the road so cars
can drive underneath, was road-tested in China. There was great
excitement about this possible solution to traffic woes, but questions
are now being asked about whether the project is feasible or even real.
The idea of a traffic-straddling bus first appeared in China in 2010,
but it did not make much impact until the model was presented at the
Beijing International High-Tech Expo this year as a solution to traffic
The Transit Elevated Bus, dubbed Batie, was described as a revolution in
public ground transportation, but only a few days after its much-lauded
test-run in Qinhuangdao city, Hebei province, all test-runs have been
halted and doubts have emerged.
Batie stands 2m above the road, but the test run covered only 300m on a
local road with just two traffic lanes. Many doubt the vehicle would fit
under footbridges in Beijing, and critics have asked how it will turn
corners, whether it is strong enough to bear its own and passengers’
weight and how long its battery would last.
The Beijing News pointed out that the model used in the latest test run
was the same one as six years ago, suggesting the project has made no
real technical progress since then. And the model is far from finished
as workers were still working on parts of the bus just before the test.
Many people commenting online also raised Batie’s "lack of real
science", saying Song Youzhou, the vehicle’s designer, has only a
primary school education, although he owns more than 50 patents for
Public reports show that the company behind Batie signed a strategic
partnership with the Qinhuangdao government in April, but when the
Beijing News got in touch, both the Qinhuangdao and local Beidaihe
governments denied any active involvement in the project, saying there
was only a "skeleton" agreement.
The city’s top economic planning department, the National Development
and Reform Commission of Qinhuangdao, was quoted as saying the bus
project had not been approved.
The company later clarified that the trial was not a formal "road test,"
but simply part of "internal testing".
Batie also says it has signed contracts to co-operate with the Tianjin
and Henan governments, but when Chinese journalists visited their
production base in Henan, it is reported that they saw no activity
inside the factory site, and that it was overrun with weeds.