If you’re driving in a Chinese city in the none-too-distant future and your car is engulfed in a smooth, humming metallic belly, don’t panic. It may feel like an alien abduction, but probably it’s only a colossal, street-straddling bus.
The idea of a bus so large, high and long that it could virtually levitate above congested streets seemed surreal when presented at an expo in Beijing in May. But it came a step closer to reality this week, when a prototype went for an experimental spin in Qinhuangdao, a seaside city in northern China.
The makers of the vehicle, known as the Transit Elevated Bus, declared the ride down a few hundred yards of street on Tuesday a success, but the controlled conditions hardly reflected the gnarled unpredictability of Chinese traffic.
Television news showed the bus, resembling a goliath bug, edging forward down tracks while two cars nestled side by side underneath.
“I wanted to officially show people that this is entirely possible and that the bus can be up and running,” Song Youzhou, the designer of the straddling bus, said in a telephone interview from Qinhuangdao.
“We were inspecting and testing the vehicle for a range of functions, like ignition, braking and other processes, to see if they all work together and there are no problems,” Mr. Song said.