The straddling bus rolled into Hebei, China with much fanfare; now it's stuck there collecting dust. Stringer/Reuter

Briefly hyped as the future of transit, it now sits indefinitely in an open shed.

Remember that straddling bus that drew both excitement and criticism from urban enthusiasts, right before derailing into a possible full-on scam?

Well, what once looked like a treatment for China’s serious cases of pollution and traffic “is currently causing them,” as Shanghaiist puts it. A local reporter checked up on the 72-foot-long behemoth earlier this month and found it to be right where engineers left it back in August: on the 300-meter test track of a Hebei city road, blocking lanes and gathering a thick layer of dust in an open shed.

And it looks like it won’t be moving any time soon. Shanghaiist reports that the lease for the track was supposed to expire in August, but has since been renewed for another year. Song Youzhou, the designer, insisted his staff still tests the line every week and that his company—which earlier had been accused of operating a Ponzi scheme—is searching for new investors. (He blames the accumulated dust on China’s smog.) But workers still guarding the bus (or more accurately, the train) told local news that they haven’t heard a peep from the company.

Scam or not, this project was likely doomed from its conception, according to critics. It failed to address problems like feasibility (maintenance cost would be tremendous) and safety (trucks, for example, wouldn’t be able to drive underneath it)—not to mention the fundamentally car-centric approach that rankled many urbanists. The bus made its attempt to straddle between futurism and reality, which in itself warrants the initial excitement, but perhaps it’s time for it to make its final stop in the realm of science fiction.

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. a photo of yellow vest protesters in Paris, France.
    Equity

    To Understand American Political Anger, Look to ‘Peripheral France’

    French geographer Christophe Guilluy has a controversial diagnosis of working-class resentment in the age of Trump, Brexit, and the Yellow Vests.

  2. a screenshot of a video about Baltimore's Metro
    Transportation

    It’s Time to Celebrate Baltimore’s Much-Maligned Metro

    In 1987, the Maryland Transit Administration busted out a brass band to open a subway that never had a chance.

  3. A cat lays flat on a bench at a park on the outskirts of Tokyo.
    Life

    Why Don't Americans Use Their Parks At Night?

    Most cities aren’t fond of letting people use parks after dark. But there are good lifestyle, environmental, and safety reasons to reconsider.

  4. Equity

    Why Housing Policy Feels Like Generational Warfare

    To Millennials, at least.

  5. A rendering of a co-living building in San Jose.
    Life

    The Largest Co-Living Building in the World Is Coming to San Jose

    The startup Starcity plans to build an 800-unit, 18-story “dorm for adults” to help affordably house Silicon Valley’s booming workforce.

×