Dutch working on superbus – aerodynamic bus that can also be a high speed train It is an electric bus designed to be able to switch seamlessly between ordinary roads and dedicated “supertracks”, on which it can reach speeds of 250kph (155mph). It could thus present an alternative to much more expensive magnetic-levitation trains. It is as wide and long as a standard city bus, the Superbus is only 1.7 metres high, or roughly the same height as a sports-utility vehicle. There is no middle aisle. The low-riding Superbus, in contrast, has a separate door for each of its 30-odd seats. The individual doors also allow for rapid loading and unloading of passengers.
The low ceiling and the use of lightweight materials make for a far more streamlined vehicle, which in turn requires only a modest electric motor: though engineers have not yet decided whether the Superbus will be powered by fuel cells or batteries, they estimate that it will be able to accelerate from rest to 100kph in a leisurely 36 seconds.
The future of the project is uncertain. Its intended route, a new transport link connecting Amsterdam with the northern city of Groningen, was recently scrapped by the Dutch government (although the Superbus was deemed the most feasible of all the options considered, which also included a maglev train). In spite of the setback, the project has since received an extra €7m ($9m) in government funding, plus €1m from Connexxion, a local bus company. The Superbus team’s latest plan is to unveil a fully functional prototype at the Beijing Olympics in 2008.
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