Remember the Chinese traffic-straddling bus? The bonkers is-it-a-bus-or-a-train invention that was aimed at alleviating traffic? That weird looking thing that seemed like a total scam? Turns out, it was bogus after all—and now 32 people have been arrested for their role in creating it, according to the New York Times.
The Times reports that the plan to develop a crazy elevated bus that allowed traffic to flow underneath has been effectively killed, after nearly three dozen people from one of the project’s investors have been arrested.
The Transit Elevated Bus, as it was called, had a test run last August. The idea fascinated the public. It was expected to carry 1,200 passengers in a elevated tram that ran on tracks over two lanes of traffic.
But from there, things fell apart. Here’s the Times:
In subsequent months, the Chinese news media and investors raised pointed questions about the company behind the project, Huaying Kailai. The company promoted the “reliability” of investing in public-private partnerships like the bus initiative and promised annual returns of up to 12 percent. A New York Times reporter who visited Huaying Kailai’s office in September saw walls lined with photographs of the owner, Bai Zhiming, with celebrities, entrepreneurs and local officials. A half-dozen investors stopped by over an hour. Some left with gifts and grocery bags full of cash.
As we reported last August, much about the project seemed sketchy upon closer inspection. Construction appeared completely rushed, and the tram itself looked like it had very basic components, such as a home A/C unit.
Chinese media continually blasted the project, with one op-ed in the Beijing News saying it was “nothing more than a trick to attract investors.”
Congestion sucks, but pie-in-the-sky ideas like a traffic-straddling bus seemed like a virtually impossible solution. Now, we know that’s true. It’s too bad, because, really, that thing looked cool.