Remember that viral video from last summer showing a bus breeze by traffic by driving right over it? It was supposed to revolutionize traffic in the notoriously congested urban areas of China and help with the issue of smog.
Well, on Sunday, the Chinese government took to the social media site Weibo to announce the whole thing is a scam. It wasn’t fake news, exactly—the video itself was real, not doctored. But the video didn’t correctly portray how well the bus would work in real life.
On Aug. 2, 2016, China Xinhua News unveiled the bus to the world. According to China Xinhua News, the bus had just begun its maiden drive in Qinhuangdao, a city east of Beijing with a population of about 3 million. The bus purportedly operated by following a predetermined route and could carry about 300 people. The bottom was 7.2 feet off the ground, so cars under that height could go under it and keep driving (unless it was turning, in which case cars reportedly had to wait for the bus to finish). The internet loved the videos that emerged and labeled it a “car-eating” bus.
But the tide quickly turned.
Soon after the test run, Forbes called into question the validity of the project, noting that China’s state media had questions about the project, including how well it would actually perform, considering the test run was only 300 meters long and didn’t factor in a wide variety of details. Then in December 2016 CNN reported that the bus had been abandoned on the special tracks built for it and it was causing, not fixing, traffic issues. On June 21, the bus was finally relocated, and officials announced plans to remove the special tracks on which it ran by the end of June, according to Quartz.
Now the project is running into legal troubles with its investors, 72 of whom have filed lawsuits against two people who run an online investing platform, Huaying Kailai and Bai Zhiming, according to Southern Metropolis Daily, a Chinese language newspaper.
The two raised about $1.3 billion for the project, with potential investors having to pay a minimum of $150,000 as a buy-in. The investors were promised a 12 percent return on their contribution. Police in China have arrested Zhiming, who also bought the patent for the design, along with 31 of his employees, NPR reports.
But rather than running from the scene of the crime, Zhiming said the bus would be relocated to another city after being moved from its abandoned post, Quartz reported. This guy doesn’t seem to know when to quit.