It differs in a number of key ways from the idea dreamed up by Hodgetts and Walker, who envisioned a much larger vehicle that normal buses could enter. Still, the TEB is similar in that it, too, straddles traffic.

Moving along specialized tracks—making it more like a train than a bus, actually—the TEB features an elevated midsection that glides over two lanes. Receiving electricity through the tracks, the vehicle travels at 40 km to 60 km (25 miles to 37 miles) per hour. It could be powered partly by solar energy. According to the company’s website (link in Chinese), the final version will have four sections, with a total length of 58 m to 62 m (190 ft to 203 ft).

The idea is to reduce air pollution and traffic jams in China’s most congested cities. Fifteen of the world’s 50 most congested cities are in China, according to the Dutch navigation company TomTom. Four of them—Tianjin, Nanyang, Shenyang, and Zhoukou—plan to run pilot projects of the road-straddling bus, along with Qinhuangdao, according to TEB Technology Development. Various nations have also expressed an interest in the system, among them France, Brazil, India, and Indonesia.

But not everyone is on board with the idea. Many worry about safety, especially in terms of how the TEB and regular traffic will interact. Others question the practicality of introducing it in cities that already have well-established transportation infrastructure.

Quartz shared some articles on the TEB with Hodgetts, now an architecture professor at the University of California in Los Angeles. He said it appeared be an “immature project” with some ”fundamental problems.”

Questions about the project’s readiness also linger in China, where the concept behind the TEB was received with a flurry of publicity when it was first unveiled in 2010. Yin Zhi, an urban planning professor at Beijing’s Tsinghua University, recently told the Global Times: ”The idea of the road-straddling bus was shot down six years ago by a panel for its impracticality. Yet it was brought back to the public again.”

Concerns about the TEB’s impact on regular traffic include:

There are other questions about the vehicle’s practicality:

TEB Technology Development declined to respond to repeated requests for a comment about the project and the concerns it raises.

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