China’s futuristic train that floats above traffic now lies deserted

It felt pretty awesome to witness the future of transportation unveiled this summer as China’s Transit Elevated Bus Train (TEB) took to the urban streets of Qinhuangdao for testing. One would think that after such an accomplishment the vehicle would be put to use as soon as humanly possible. Unfortunately, that is not what’s happening.

A new report from Shanghaiist tells the story of an innovative new transportation solution left to collect dust like last year’s major tech release. After the TEB was shown off in August, the project was heavily criticized by Chinese state media. Next, investors began to pull out of the project.

The optics of the ambitious accomplishment have largely been shaped by a series of design oversights. For starters, the clearance under the bus is substantially lower than the height of vehicles allowed on most roads in the country. The train could also cause serious damage to roads, traffic lights and other infrastructure. This is not to mention accusations of illegal crowdfunding and failures to disclose proper information to investors. All of this led to a complete halt in testing.

Since then, the TEB has been left in a rusted-out barn — in the middle of a major Chinese road. Despite the fact that nobody has touched the vehicle in months, the ground that it sits on is still leased out for another year. More than anything, I feel sorry for the commuters who, while stuck in traffic, have to watch a once promising, expensive, infrastructure project lose value in front of their eyes.