Mystery shrouds China's elevated bus project

By Chen Xia
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, June 14, 2016
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The eye-catching, futuristic Transit Elevated Bus (TEB) that is allegedly scheduled to be launched in August is shrouded in mystery, as the construction of the project has yet to begin.

Journalists visit the workshop of the prototype of the Transit Elevated Bus on June 6. [Photo from China News Service]

Journalists visit the workshop of the prototype of the Transit Elevated Bus on June 6. [Photo from China News Service] 

What makes it even more mysterious is that several government departments in Qinhuangdao City, where the project is supposed to be carried out, denied any knowledge of the project, the National Business Daily reported.

"The [municipal] development and reform commission hasn't received any official information or documents on the bus project," said an anonymous employee from the commission, which is in charge of making economic plans for the city.

Two offices affiliated to the commission, responsible for overseeing transportation projects and evaluating and approving project proposals, also denied knowledge of the project.

"So far, all we knew about the project was learnt from the social media platform WeChat and the press, so we are not quite clear about it," the employee said.

The news about the launching of the project spread recently after the model of the bus captured large public attention at the 19th China Beijing International High-Tech Expo in May.

A spokesperson from the Beijing-based Huaying Group, one of the project's investors, told media shortly after the expo that the bus would be tested in the Qinhuangdao City in early August and that the whole line would extend one kilometer.

In January, the Huaying Group also announced on its website that its chairman of the board, Bai Zhiming, had signed a framework agreement with the Qinhuangdao authorities.

However, an industry insider said that the agreement was more likely to be a letter of intent, which "was not legally binding" and was signed with the business promotion department of the local government.

Moreover, it was said that the group had also signed an agreement on the TEB project with the authorities of Tianjin City in north China.

"Such an agreement is not legally binding, so it's up to them if they really want to start the project, and even if they quit, you have nothing to do about it," the industry insider said.

So far, the Huaying Group and the business promotion department haven't responded to questions about the agreement's legal effect.

Nonetheless, the construction of the prototype bus is under full swing. On June 6, journalists from several media outlets were invited to see the prototype bus built by the KTK Group based in Jiangsu Province. The framework of the prototype bus, 22 meters long, 7.8 meters wide and 4.5 meters high, has been built.

The TEB bus is designed to span two lanes and carry 1,200 to 1,400 people in a carriage raised several meters above the ground to allow vehicles drive underneath it. It was listed among the 50 Best Inventions of 2010 by the Times.

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