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. Bicycle riders on a package-blocked bicycle lane
    Perspective

    Why Do Micromobility Advocates Have Tiny-Demand Syndrome?

    In the 1930s big auto dreamed up freeways and demanded massive car infrastructure. Micromobility needs its own Futurama—one where cars are marginalized.

  2. Environment

    How ‘Corn Sweat’ Makes Summer Days More Humid

    It’s a real phenomenon, and it’s making the hot weather muggier in the American Midwest.

  3. A photo of a police officer in El Paso, Texas.
    Equity

    What New Research Says About Race and Police Shootings

    Two new studies have revived the long-running debate over how police respond to white criminal suspects versus African Americans.

  4. a photo of a WeWork office building
    Life

    What WeWork’s Demise Could Do to NYC Real Estate

    The troubled coworking company is the largest office tenant in New York City. What happens to the city’s commercial real estate market if it goes under?

  5. Life

    Why Do Instagram Playgrounds Keep Calling Themselves Museums?

    The bustling industry of immersive, Instagram-friendly experiences has put a new spin on the word museum.

×