The tragic saga of one of China’s most ambitious inventions continues with the “straddling bus” going from the “future of transportation” to the “scam of the century” in less than one year.
Touted as an innovative solution to China’s public transportation woes, the Transit Elevated Bus (TEB) was designed to glide above the road while traffic passes conveniently underneath. It became an international sensation of sorts last summer following its first trial run, but quickly ran into roadblocks when Chinese state media proclaimed it nothing but a big, fat scam.
After sitting idle and blocking traffic for months, authorities in the Hebei city of Qinhuangdao finally decided to start tearing down the 300-meter-long TEB test track in June. That work is now complete and the “straddling bus” itself has unceremoniously been towed out of its garage. Destination: unknown.
Meanwhile, Beijing police announced on Sunday that 32 people have been detained for illegally raising funds to finance the TEB. Last year, Chinese media reported that Huaying Kailai, the parent company of TEB Tech, had managed to raise billions of yuan in funding through shady peer to peer (P2P) investing, but had only spent less than 200 million yuan on the project itself.
In a statement published online, police asked those who invested in the TEB to come forward and file complaints. Already, at least 72 investors have done so, demanding that Huaying Kaili give them their money back.
The boss at the fundraising company is Bai Zhiming, the “father of the TEB.” Since his invention became a national disgrace, Bai has largely pulled back from the public eye and has not yet commented on the investigation.
Hard to believe that it was all a lie.
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