China detains dozens over funding of elevated bus project

04 Juillet, 2017, 15:41 | Author: Marc Bacque

The Transit Elevated Bus - known as "batie" - was an electrically powered, 300-passenger vehicle that moves atop tracks straddling the highway while allowing road traffic to flow below. The Transit Explore Bus, as it was called could accommodate 1,400 people at a time, but has now turned out to be a scam which has come under the investigation of the Chinese authorities. Billed as a potential answer to China's notorious traffic congestion and air pollution, the TEB conducted its first road test run last August in the northeastern port city of Qinghuangdao, but has since mostly sat idly as a giant roadblock.

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.

In recent months, rumors have been swirling that the Beijing-based company behind the mega-bus had illegally obtained funds from the public. The bus has been stationary in Qinhuangdao due to a shortage of funds, but the Weibo report suggests police are looking to retrieve and return funds from Huaying Kailai. Huaying Kailai couldn't be reached for comment. And last week the local authority began removing the 984-foot-long tracks the bus runs on. Back then, engineers unveiled a toy-sized model of the TEB while promising that full-sized tests would take place in the second half of 2016.

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Doubts about the bus - a 22m-long electric vehicle standing almost 5m high and 8m wide - began to emerge when all tests were halted shortly after the first test run.

Passengers will board the sixteen-wheeled bus via elevated platforms on the roadside, although commuters in a hurry are still better off taking the subway as no high-speed tests of the bus have taken place yet. Bai bills himself as "the father of the TEB" on Weibo.

The bus's prototype went viral a year ago in August after footage showed the bus driving down a track in northern Hebei province in China.

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