China’s Transit Elevated Bus (TEB) made headlines last week after the company behind the project, TEBtech, conducted a first real-world test.

However, questions have been raised as to whether it's just one big scam.

As China’s Global Times points out, much of TEBtech's capital has been sourced via online peer-to-peer lending. The form of lending has been rocked by several scandals in China recently, with some turning out to be Ponzi schemes.

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There are also doubts about the viability of the design. On closer inspection, Car News China noted that TEBtech’s prototype had rubber tires that traveled along crudely constructed troughs in the road, instead of the proposed rail system that the company originally touted. There’s even speculation that the prototype might simply be a refurbished gantry or portal crane like you see at major ports.

Transit Elevated Bus (TEB) tracks - Image via Car News China

Transit Elevated Bus (TEB) tracks - Image via Car News China

The TEB project has been in the works for almost a decade, though (it made headlines all the way back in 2010). And TEBtech claims to have successfully tested one of the high-riding, traffic-straddling buses.

However, the August 2 test in the port city of Qinhuangdao was conducted on a closed-off section of road and only saw the bus travel about 300 meters.

TEBtech stated that its initial test was to evaluate the aerodynamics, braking system and power usage of the prototype. The prototype is approximately 26 feet long and 16 ft high and has the capacity to carry 300 passengers.

The project has already attracted the interest of transport departments from other countries including Brazil, France, India and Indonesia. Given the level of interest, we should learn soon whether the TEB is a genuine solution for the world’s congested cities or if it’s simply a ruse to fleece investors.