The production center for an innovative bus that straddles highway lanes to allow cars to pass beneath－a sort of moving tunnel－appears deserted with no sign of construction, raising questions about the scheduled launch in 2017.
In December, Huaying Group, headquartered in Beijing, signed a contract with the local authorities in Zhoukou, Henan province, to produce the Transit Elevated Bus in a manufacturing and research center covering 0.67 square kilometers.
The bus looks like a giant double-decker but is hollow on the ground level. Passengers can sit on the top floor while cars pass below.
However, according to a Beijing Youth Daily report on Monday, the site is now full of thick weeds, and some nearby farmers feed their sheep in the area.
A local farmer surnamed Yuan told reporters that a groundbreaking ceremony was held last month.
"They built a platform. People who stood on the platform were dressed up. It seemed like it was a big day, but there has been no activity since," said Yuan.
Du Guangxian, a local official, said the project has been delayed.
"The environmental impact assessment of the project has not been approved yet, and many documents are still waiting to be signed," he was quoted as saying by Beijing Youth Daily.
Huaying Group is expected to produce 1,000 buses annually, according to the contract, which included an investment of 10 billion yuan ($1.5 billion).
Asked why the groundbreaking ceremony was held before full approval had been received, Du said it was to push the development of the project.
"We heard concerns about the project before. Some doubted its technology and feasibility, but we eventually decided to initiate the project and then evaluate whether it is a good project or not," he said.
The project is expected to be put into operation in one year with an expected output value of 5 billion yuan to 10 billion yuan.
By DU JUAN (China Daily)
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