China 'straddling bus' project gets terminated

June 22, 2017 12:12
Workers dismantle a test-track (inset) in Qinhuangdao, signaling the end of the road for a much-hyped traffic-straddling bus project. Photos:

A public–private partnership (PPP) project in China to build a futuristic "straddling bus", a vehicle that would cruise over the top of cars and help resolve urban traffic woes, has officially been scrapped.

The Transit Elevated Bus (TEB), which was touted as a revolution in public ground transportation when it was showcased at a high-tech expo in Beijing in May last year, has proved to be just a fanciful dream. 

Amid doubts over its feasibility and other concerns, authorities in Qinhuangdao in China's Hebei province have ordered the dismantling of a test-track for the traffic-straddling buses.

On Wednesday, workers were seen using electric breakers to dismantle and remove the test-track, indicating that the TEB project has been officially dropped, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.

The idea of a traffic-straddling bus was unveiled last year, prompting amazement as well as doubts among the public.

To ease traffic jams, the system was designed to allow a 22-meter-long and 4.2-meter high rail bus to "straddle" above road traffic, gliding over cars.

The bus would be supported by two legs that run along rails laid along the roadside.

Passengers on board the bus would experience a ride comparable to being in the upper level of a double-decker bus.

The first test run was conducted last August and it was followed by several other such initiatives on the track laid in Qinhuangdao's Beidaihe district. But since October, there were no more tests.

China News Service, in a report Wednesday, quoted demolition workers as saying that the lease for the 300-meter-long test track expired on July 31 this year.

The company behind the bus, TEB Technology, allegedly tried to extend the lease but was refused by local authorities.

Residents in the neighborhood have also been seeking demolition of the track, which was said to be causing traffic problems.

Apart from questions about its feasibility, there is speculation that other factors may have played a role in the project ending up as a flop.

There had been reports that Huaying Kailai, a Beijing-based asset company that is a shareholder of TEB Technology, took advantage of the PPP project to conduct peer-to-peer lending under the table.

Amid such speculation, the project came under a cloud, with observers suspecting some sort of investment fraud.

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