It turns out that China’s futuristic “straddling bus” is sitting in the garage gathering dust and blocking traffic for a reason, the project is out of cash.
Investors who funded the construction and initial testing of the Transit Elevated Bus (TEB) have apparently decided that they’ve already blown enough of their money, and are reluctant to invest any more. Therefore, all capital-driven work has been halted, an anonymous manager for TEB Tech told The Paper.
The futuristic “straddling bus,” designed to glide above the road while traffic passes conveniently underneath, made its first “test-run” to much fanfare and media coverage on a tiny 300-meter-long strip of road in Qinhuangdao in early August. Since then, it’s been all downhill for the self-styled “future of public transportation.”
Shortly afterward, the project was labeled as a big, fat scam by Chinese state media. Reports detailed how Huaying Kailai, the parent company of TEB Tech had raised billions of yuan through peer to peer (P2P) investing, but had spent less than 200 million yuan on the project. Further investigation revealed a slew of broken contracts and promises. The “straddling bus” was soon locked up, all testing was stopped and investors began asking for their money back.
Later in August, the TEB hit the tracks again, but that appears to have been its swan song. Recent reports suggest that the “straddling bus” hasn’t moved for two months, gathering dust in the middle of a suburban street and annoying local residents. Even its two security guards say that they’ve been forgotten about by the company.
If it was all a scam, it doesn’t appear to have been a very good one. The Paper reports that recently a number of employees have started to leave TEB Tech, and the company has missed a payment to the vehicle’s designer.
In the face of all this negative media attention, Song Youzhou, creator of the “straddling bus” and TEB Technology chief engineer, has remained defiant, calling reports of his invention’s demise mere “rumors.”
Song told The Paper that experts are sent to the TEB test site in Qinhuangdao weekly to inspect the project. He added that the company had secured investment from a state-owned enterprise dealing with energy, though he declined to actually name the company.
As for the layers of dust accumulating on the “straddling bus,” Song said that if was only ordinary Hebei haze, just like if you “don’t wash your car for three or four days.”
Hey, there’s always India?
[Images via The Paper]
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