China's eye-catching "straddling bus" now facing financial trouble and abandoned

Recent reports suggest that China's futuristic Traffic Elevated Bus (TEB) has been deserted due to financial shortage.

    Dec 20, 2016 3:46 PM  PT
China's eye-catching "straddling bus" now facing financial trouble and abandoned
author: Claire   

A few months ago, China's Traffic Elevated Bus (TEB) had a successful test run and was gaining worldwide recognition. Much praise was given to the country's creative transportation machine and much anticipation was also placed on how the "straddling bus" could disrupt China's traffic jam. However, recent reports suggest that the TEB was deserted due to financial shortage.

According to Shanghaiist , the giant bus is now covered in dirt and hasn't been touched for months. A guard at the machine was quoted as saying "the managers from the company have long drifted away, and I am unable to contact them."

The reason behind the project's abortion was mainly due to investors pulling out. After its grand test run in August, the machine encountered strong backlash from China's state media, pointing out that the project was not feasible, and also cited connections with a fraudulent scheme. 

The TEB idea was initially put forward in 2010. However, due to doubts about the technology and lack of funds, it was cancelled without getting any attention. Until last year, the technology was acquired by Bai Zhiming, a real estate developer who has no experience in mass transit. He initiated the project on a P2P lending platform called Huaying Kailai, rasing $26 million with the promise that it will give investors 12 percent annual returns, thus making the project happen. 

Yet mainstream media, including Global Times and Sina, later claimed that Huaying Kailai was on the government's blacklist of illegal P2P crowdfunding. Further reports revealed the complex money-collecting scheme for the TEB project, making people further doubt whether a 12 percent high return is viable. 

Moreover, feasibility of the project is yet another issue that remains controversial. In August's test run at Qinghuangdao city, the giant bus (prototype) began moving on a 328-meter stretch of road. However, it did not mimic a real-life traffic condition, such as bridge-crossings, making turns or interacting with other vehicles on the road. Besides, the "straddling bus" only leaves 2.1 meters of clearance for vehicles to pass by, while the height limit for vehicles on public roads is 4.5 meters or 4.2 meters, depending on the type of road the vehicle is driving on. How TEB plans to solve such massive problems are what many people question. 

After doubts were casted on TEB's future performance, many government departments and organizations have refused to acknowledge their relations with the project, such as the municipal development and reform commission in Qinghuangdao, and Shanghai Jiaotong University, which used to be closely involved in the program, according to TEB's engineering team. 

Now the behemoth is standing there, but in a totally abandoned state. "The tracks are still there and we're aware that it causes transportation problems,"said a Qinhuangdao government official, who declined to be identified by name because he wasn't authorized to speak publicly." I don't know much about TEB's future plans or what we will do with the tracks."

"With all this money cutting off now, the company can't do anything," a TEB project manger who refused to release his name told CNN. 

Not too long ago, TEB was said to be building a real bus by mid-2017. But now, how the project will proceed is anyone's guess.