The internet loves the Transit Elevated Bus (TEB), an innovative new method of transportation planned to launch in China. The futuristic vehicle straddles lanes of traffic, gliding above the chaos below. It's an undeniably appealing idea for the busy cities in the most populated country in the world.
This week, Jinchuang Corp, who produced the first model of the TEB, took it on a "test run", producing a video that wowed viewers all over the world. There are just a few little problems with this amazing innovation.
Firstly, the test, which took place in the Chinese city of Qinhuangdao wasn't really a street test at all. It was a caveat noted in plenty of the original coverage, but the TEB traveled down a road of merely 300 meters, without the regular flow of traffic rushing beneath it. Moreover, according to Chinese state media the officials in Qinhuangdao were of the test. TEB Technology Development Company's chief engineer later confirmed that the test was merely "internal," not the public spectacle they made it out to be.
The height of the model presents even more problems. The maximum height of vehicles on the road in China is 4.2 to 4.5 meters, but the TEB only can accommodate vehicles that are 2.1 meters tall. Furthermore, it's unclear how the vehicle would turn or evade stoplights. To top all this off, the Transit Elevated Bus . It runs on tracks, so it is, in fact, a train.
Two have claimed that the whole TEB project is actually a scam to extract funds from investors. The project was funded by peer-to-peer lending, a model where an online company matches potential investors with borrowers, promising a high interest return for those who invest. Other peer-to-peer investing platforms in China have demonstrated the risk of these systems. The platform Ezubao was shut down this year after the government declared the company was a "Ponzi scheme". Even more dubiously, the Chinese tabloid Global Times that the project's chief architect, only has a primary school level education.
Whether the TEB is a ploy to take advantage of new financial tools or a sincere project for social and environmental good is still unclear. There are sure to be more developments as the international interest in this ambitious project grows.