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04 July 2017

Bus that drives over cars may be a scam, China says

China’s so-called bus of the future is in trouble.

A CAR straddling bus designed in China which took the internet by storm could be completely dead in its tracks.

The innovative looking bus officially dubbed the Transit Elevated Bus was designed to coast along special tracks built alongside the road. In theory, the electrically-powered bus would glide over the tops of cars which would happily pass underneath its hollow undercarriage.

The bus was designed to carry up to 1,400 passengers at a top speed of 60 kilometres per hour.

It was first proposed in 2010 and last year the company behind it unveiled a real size prototype and completed a test run on a closed 300 metre road in Qinhuangdao City in the northern Hebei province.

Billed as a solution to China’s increasing traffic and pollution woes, the strange vehicle garnered plenty of media attention.

However as reporters from around the world took a closer look at the bus, there were plenty of questions about the quality of the vehicle and how it would actually handle the unpredictability of China’s busy roadways.

After a glitzy test run, nothing much came about. The company responsible was supposed to restore the test site to its original state by the end of August, according to China’s official state news agency Xinhua.

But as CNN reported in December, “the quirky vehicle now sits idle at the test site in northern China, where it has become a hulking eyesore” which was actually making traffic conditions worse.

The transit elevated bus TEB-1 is on road test in Qinhuangdao, north China's Hebei Province, Aug. 2, 2016. Picture: Luo Xiaoguang/Xinhua

The transit elevated bus TEB-1 is on road test in Qinhuangdao, north China’s Hebei Province, Aug. 2, 2016. Picture: Luo Xiaoguang/XinhuaSource:Supplied

It didn’t take long for serious doubts to emerge about the technical and financial validity of the project. And now, it looks like the whole thing could be in the toilet.

On Sunday police in Beijing announced they had started an investigation into the company behind the TEB for alleged illegal fundraising.

An online financing platform called Huaying Kailai which has been selling an investment product to raise money from individual investors to develop the bus has seen more than 30 people involved with the company arrested by police.

A statement issued by police said 32 people, including a person surnamed Bai, have been detained. Documents with the Beijing government show that Huaying’s founder, surnamed Bai, owns 90 per cent of the company manufacturing the straddling bus, TEB Tech.

Chinese police said it was seeking to “recover the funds involved in this case and protect investors’ legal rights and interests”.

But police did not provide further details about the allegations.

At least 72 investors have filed lawsuits against Bai and Huaying Kailai for private lending disputes, according to the Southern Metropolis Daily.

The inside of a single carriage of the futuristic bus which no longer looks like happening.

The inside of a single carriage of the futuristic bus which no longer looks like happening.Source:Supplied

The single compartment built and tested was last year was 22m long with a spacious interior measuring 7.8m wide. The carriage was supposed to be able to cater for up to 300 passengers.

The bus was designed to be two lanes wide and to run on special tracks either side of the road, meaning the tracks would need to be constructed along certain routes before the bus could be rolled out.

Which at the moment, looks like it will probably never happen.

— With AFP

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