Today’s public transit buses aren’t all that encouraging to ride. At least in my (very limited) experience, they tend to be crowded, uncomfortable, and generally unpleasant places to be. Plus, the bus goes where it wants to go, without any input from you. You are chained to the will of the public transportation system.
A group of students from the Netherlands aims to remedy the situation, as well as emissions, with an electric, high-speed Superbus. The students, from the Delff University of Technology, concieved of the project six years ago, and now they are building an actual, working demonstration vehicle. But can the Superbus live up to its lofty expectations?
Designed as an alternative to mass transit, the Superbus does not have a set path it must follow. Rather the riders (up to 23 individuals) call ahead or text a pickup/drop off location and time. The bus then calculates the fastest route, using its electric motors to power it across the city. The Superbus is designed with a Top Speed of 155 mph, though its length, weight, and usage (who goes 155 mph in the city?) are all limiting factors. The Superbus has an expected range of about 130 miles by using lithium polymer battery packs and regenerative braking, despite having a fully-loaded (with passengers?) weight of over 20,000 pounds. Like I said, lofty goals.
Still the Superbus aims to offer luxury rather than mass transit. Each of the 23 seats is equipped with a personal desk, headphones, and a multimedia screen. And the concept of a vehicle that caters to its customers needs, rather than merely taking them along for a ride, is important. While I expect it would be difficult to calculate 23 different destinations and times to meet, it isn’t impossible. And I’ve got to admire the gusto of these students for going ahead and actually building the bus, rather than talk about it. While I doubt they’ll meet all their goals (does a bus really need to go 155 mph?) the end result will still be worth admiring methinks.
So far the project is rather far along, with the body and suspension coming together and the interior recently finished. They’ve even tested the drive system last year, achieving their desired “ultimate speed”. I’ll be keeping an eye on this one.