5 Facts about TEB – Chinese Bus Project that Failed

More than 7 years ago, the Chinese came across an innovative yet weird transportation idea. If you never read about this, then let us tell you all about the Chinese bus project, which has failed graciously. Most cities in China are congested with traffic on a regular basis, and as a solution to this problem, the TEB was designed. Not only it was a cheaper option, but it was meant to operate on the roads without hampering the movement of other vehicles. Here are 5 things that easily summarize the conception of this idea, it’s implementation and it’s closure!

1. The Chinese Bus Idea

In 2010, some experts put forward a proposal for a giant transportation bus. This bus could move around on the big roads. This idea came up because in the major cities of China, traffic congestion had become a regular problem. Despite having a network of public transportation, the traffic remained a persisting issue. The Chinese bus, which was termed as TEB (Transit Elevated Bus) was a massive vehicle that was supposed to run on the bigger roads of Chinese cities. Cars of up to a height of 2 meters could pass under it, without having to halt. This would have meant that the bus would keep running on it’s rail lines, and could move above cars without affecting the flow of regular traffic.

Chinese Bus - TEB

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2. Why was it better than Subway?

In the initial reports, the Chinese bus – TEB, had shown promise in the development and running costs. According to a report, a 40 km TEB track would cost around just 1/10th of an equivalent subway line. Also, it’s maintenance cost were lower than that of subway as per the analysis of some test data.


3. Passenger capacity and comfort

The Chinese bus aka TEB was designed to carry around 300 passengers comfortably. The bus can run on speeds of up to 60 km/hr. So it will run on a good pace without being affected by traffic, thereby providing a fix ride time between two points. This working strategy will attract more passengers who would want to be on time while saving more of it. The interior is too vast, as if a moving underground subway. The larger model was meant to carry around 1200 people at a time with ease, but it was never even designed. Only the smaller model was constructed for test runs.

Chinese Bus - Passenger Comfort

4. Benefit as a Road Vehicle

The biggest benefit was that this Chinese bus would move over the regular traffic as constant speeds. It will neither affect the traffic on the road, neither will it be affected by the traffic. Another benefit was the construction and maintenance cost, which was supposedly lower than the cost of subway. So this project would have resulted in a cheaper transit for the commuters as well. Also, the Chinese bus was designed to run on predefined route, on rails laid on the roads. So these buses were meant to run themselves! The ground clearance is a whopping 2.2 meters, allowing most cars to pass beneath it. It is 4.8 meters high and 7.8 meters wide, with a length of 22 meters. These dimensions could only be allowed on large roads and highways.

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5. What lead to it’s Failure?

The plan seemed too weird right from the beginning. Many of the factors that lead to the failure of this mega Chinese bus were –

  • the bus was too big to handle corners and nearly sharp turns on the roads
  • the strength of the structure was questionable
  • safety was a big concern; the vehicles running under the bus and the ones running around it could be threatened by a collision
  • it was doubtful if the bus would be able to pass under the foot bridges that lie in it’s path

Chinese bus - DismantlingCredits – Imaginechina/REX/Shutterstock

These are the most practical hurdles that have led to the failure of this giant Chinese bus project’s failure soon after the trial. The project didn’t seem viable even in the beginning, but we have no idea what the investors saw in it so as to go ahead with it’s trials.

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