Video: New China TV/YouTube

August 10th UPDATE: Chinese news outlets are reporting that Transit Explore Bus’ traffic-straddling buses may be too good to be true. Since last week’s excitement, the buses have been called “unfeasible,” and Transit Explore Bus has been accused of funding the project with peer-to-peer financing, which the Chinese government has been cracking down on as a scam. Chief Engineer Song Youzhou has refuted those allegations, but according to some reports, further testing on the buses has been postponed.

Original story: Remember last year’s nightmare 50-lane traffic jam in China? Dubbed “carmageddon,” it involved thousands of people and backed traffic up for hours at the end of one of the country’s busiest travel weeks.

That carpocalypse is just one example of the absolutely insane traffic in Chinese mega-cities, but if Beijing-based company Transit Explore Bus has its way, it may be able to provide at least a partial solution by the end of the year. After revealing its idea for buses that can drive right over traffic at a May tech expo, it built one of the vehicles in record time and successfully test drove it on a 300-meter track in Qinhuangdao this week.

The transit elevated bus concept has been around for a long time — decades even — but hasn’t caught on until now. Transit Explore Bus’ version will be 21 meters long and just over 7 meters wide, with 2 meters of space between its bottom and the road. With those dimensions, the buses will be able to straddle two lanes of traffic and hold 300 people who will board via elevated platforms. Linked buses will reportedly be able to carry as many as 1,200 people at once.

transit elevated bus 1 Screenshot: New China TV/YouTube

transit elevated bus 2 Screenshot: New China TV/YouTube

Proponents of the buses have mostly praised their ability to reduce traffic congestion. “The biggest advantage is that the bus will save lots of road space,” Song Youzhou, the project’s chief engineer, told Chinese news agency Xinhua earlier this year. However, there are plenty of other advantages. For instance, the buses will be electric, meaning that if they catch on, they could help ease pollution; constructing the buses will also cost a fifth as much as building a subway.

That said, the buses aren’t totally flawless. Wired has already raised a number of concerns about them, and safety is at the top of the list. And for good reason — the dangers of large vehicles getting stuck under the buses, or of drivers panicking when they are “driven over” seem all too real.

For now, there’s still time to sort those issues out, although not much if one Chinese news outlet is to be believed. The People’s Daily has estimated they could be on the road by the end of the year.

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