A highly publicized effort to develop an "elevated bus" for China's congested cities is apparently finished following the arrest of its organizers.
National Public Radio reports that authorities last week arrested the owner of the patents for the Transit Elevated Bus, along with many of his employees, on suspicion of fraud.
First floated in 2010, the "bus" was actually designed to travel on a track with a passenger cabin hoisted several feet in the air — a design that proponents said would allow up to 300 passengers to essentially float over conventional vehicles.
Backers said at the time that five cities signed on to host pilot projects, and just last year they displayed a model at a Beijing tech expo and suggested that Beijing officials were interested in the concept.
But some obvious questions went unresolved. No one could answer how the bus would handle curved streets or taller vehicles, and cars driving underneath it would be unable to switch lanes or see traffic signs.
"The idea was absurd, childish," Tongji University's Shen Gang told NPR.
Reports also indicated that organizers promised investment returns of 12 percent and collected more than $500 million in funding. After repeated project delays and denials from municipal governments about their interest, authorities began to crack down on the scheme.
Patent owner and online financing entrepreneur Bai Zhiming was arrested along with 31 of his employees, and officials are reportedly working to recover the invested funds.