Did China Actually Test Its Giant Elevated Bus?

August 4, 2016 Updated: August 4, 2016

Photos of the test run for a long-advertised giant elevated bus big enough to accommodate two lanes of traffic beneath it have spurred multiple reports in China and around the world, but some doubt whether the contraption has actually gone through trials.  

“Emergency announcement!” an article from the Communist Party-controlled tabloid Global Times exclaims. “If you see this news again on other major media sites, do not believe it!”

The editorial, published Aug. 4, alleges that the company responsible for designing the Transit Elevated Bus (TEB), as the vehicle is called, has swindled investors and the public since the technology is both incomplete and wildly unfeasible.

According to earlier reports, the TEB had undergone a 300-meter (about 1,000 feet) trial in Qinhuangdao of eastern China’s Shandong Province. But when reporters from The Paper, a Shanghai-based online publication, called the authorities there, officials said they hadn’t heard of tests.

Furthermore, Ba-Tie, the company that develops the bus, told The Paper that the vehicle is still under construction and won’t be ready for further testing until completed.

This latest reportage somewhat embarrassingly contradicts what the official news agencies Xinhua and the People’s Daily reported the previous day: that, as given in a headline by the latter publication, the TEB was “not a simulation: the ‘flying bus’ has hit the road!”

The launch of the purported test. (Sina Weibo)
The TEB. (Sina Weibo)

Based on this, The Paper, like the Global Times, expressed strong suspicion that the TEB has not been tested at all. The Global Times in particular noted that Ba-Tie is dependent on peer-to-peer lending, and warned that investors putting their money behind Ba-Tie could be victims of a scam.

Ba-Tie got part of its funding via the P2P platform Huaying Kailai. According to an editorial by China.org.cn, the chairman of Huaying’s parent company, Huaying Land Group, is now the president of Ba-Tie.

Huaying Kailai’s website is now offline.

Late on July 3, the People’s Daily updated their original story, saying that they could not confirm the news of the TEB being test with the local authorities. The test was re-described as an “internal company trial.”