The Dutch Superbus

Post by Steven Dale

Because the Chinese Tunnel Bus™ is so 2010, it’s time to introduce our first best-bet nominee for insane bus-based transit technology of the year: The Dutch Superbus

You want to ride this NOW, don't you?

The Superbus is the brainchild of Netherlands astronaut and Delft University of Technology professor Wubbo Ockels, while the design itself was carried out by Dr. Antonia Terzi, an Italian aerodynamicist who cut her teeth crafting race cars for Formula 1 team BMW-Williams.

In other words: This is the vehicular love-child of a Dutch Astronaut and Italian Race Car Designer. How can this not be a good idea?

The electric-powered Superbus has capacity for 23 people and moves at a lightening-fast top speed of 250 km/hr. It also consumes as little energy as would a normal bus traveling at 100 km/hr.

As Mr. Ockels describes in the following video, the impetus for the idea was his belief “that trains are far too slow.” As you’ll see, he chose to debut his new vehicle to a pack of teenagers – a logical gambit given that the Superbus looks like the Batmobile.



And make no mistake, this is supposed to be the real-deal. The Superbus is meant to “revolutionize public transport” in “metropolitan areas that don’t want to invest a lot of money into a railway infrastructure for high speed trains.” Take a look:



In the coming days you’re likely to contemplate this technology far more than you responsibly should. And after such contemplation, there are likely only three conclusions you can come to:

First: It’s awesome and you want to ride it now.

Second: It’s pure High Concept Transit. That is, it’s not about what it is, it’s about what it could be. It’s about the discussion it creates more than the vehicle itself.

Third: It makes absolutely no sense whatsoever and is a waste of taxpayers’ time and money.

My gut says it’s a combination of all three.

Want more? Purchase Cable Car Confidential: The Essential Guide to Cable Cars, Urban Gondolas & Cable Propelled Transit and start learning about the world's fastest growing transportation technologies.

Want more? Purchase Cable Car Confidential: The Essential Guide to Cable Cars, Urban Gondolas & Cable Propelled Transit and start learning about the world's fastest growing transportation technologies.


  1. That's exactly what I think of it too. All three - big time. But now that it's built maybe it is time to go on developing it further. Btw: which roads, except for the german autobahn allow those speeds? It would be nice though to go from my city to Hamburg for instance in about 4 hours. That is what the train does, not a bus. I think the developer already told: it will need a special line... Well maybe CEO's will charter that bus instead of using a plane to go a few hundred km. At least it is more sustainable when it comes down to fuel - but also too long.
  2. I picture it touring America's drag strips and giving rides $100 per head for 1/4 mile.
  3. Yeah, I don't see it has having much of a future except as a thrill ride.
  4. i wonder what the safety rating on a thing like that is. especially going so fast. the problem with buses is, i think, they would be much more susceptible to human error, since they aren't fixed on tracks like a train would be.
  5. Exactly, thats why all seats need seatbelts (of course no standing allowed) and it will have to have an extra lane -> a very very flat even track, because it is so low and because of its lengths with wide curves. I suppose you will have to drive to the superbus which stands outside a city next to the highway waiting for you - because city traffic wouldn't be managable (trucks at that length at least have an axis). It probably needs a little more for a new superbus than a Formula 1 car and a bus for making up and 9 months later: voila, a sporty child. Learning from this project would be: if that "bus" manages to go by 250km/h using the same fuel like a common bus, why not manage those 100km/h buses to need the same fuel like a bus that runs less than 50km/h? (wasn't there a thread about those buses with additional less-fuel-noses? ;)
  6. If you guys check the super bus website you will find out that in high speed mode it would run on a dedicated track on which the bus is mechanically guided. The speed limit in the Netherlands is 130 km/h and even in Germany a speed of 250 km/h cannot be reached except during night. The track will be simpler and cheaper than a High peed track. The superbus also will provide more direct connections than high speed rail.
  7. Matt the Engineer
    Reminds me of the Onion. (I think this is the right link, I can't access the Onion from work)
  8. Matt the Engineer
    [matthias] Of course having to build a special pavement road doesn't really save you over having to build a special rail tack. Providing more direct connections than high speed rail might also be tricky without new roads that can handle these very long vehicles. Sounds like all of the cost of high speed rail except using only diesel and adding rubber tires for added maintenance and lowered safety.
  9. Please check the original website first then post any comment: http://www.superbusproject.com/ Both the total weight and the axle load of the vehicle are much lower than any high speed train. Thus the roadway and supporting structure can be lighter too. Large parts of netherlands are reclaimed from the sea with very soft underground. Thus building the new high speed line was quite expensive despite the flat land. The superbus has a length of 15m. Thats quite normal for a bus. It looks only very long. So it can use any street which a normal bus or lorry can use.
  10. It's still only a bus.
  11. Matt the Engineer
    I still don't get it (I read the website). 1. 23 passengers means you'll need alot of drivers. This is generally where most of your transit dollars ends up, making this a very expensive solution. 2. If the whole point was to make it light, why not make it light and put it on (special, light) rail? Why add the rolling resistance and maintenance of tires? (ok, for flexibility - but it seems like you're trying to solve too many problems at once. flying cars generally make poor airplanes and poor cars) 3. Flexibility is a potential benefit, but not a huge one. Train stations are generally hubs of other transit at city centers. Driving a 35m bus through traffic probably won't save time over other transit. Anyway, I appreciate innovation so I'll leave this one alone. If nothing else, it's a fun idea.
  12. Matt the Engineer
    (oops, I mean 15m - driving a 35m bus through traffic really would be an experience) (I just realized that normally buses this long are articulated - are you sure it won't be a problem in the city?)
  13. Onion, yes. That's what I meant. But seriously, I see the whole thing very questionable. Having a bus driving 250 km/h - you will need an tracks - even braking at that speed... during daytime it's not possible to drive at that speed - 23 passengers. It seems to me its purpose is to break with any regulation to get in the position to say: look here, we can do it. But actually it is not even half the way. Good thing might be: in the end you will have a few wonderful tracks for vehicles which are the opposite of the superbus. 1 mio for a transit vehicle for 23 passengers - no bright future. So in the end the tracks could remain and bicycles and superlight vehicles could use them, because they would cause problems on usual highways and be too dangerous for their drivers to drive on common high speed ground. Ah, another interesting idea: http://thefuturist.co/supersonic-maglev-%E2%80%93-london-to-new-york-in-an-hour
  14. Since the passengers can not leave their seats the bus would have to make regularly scheduled restroom stops. This could easily get annoying over long distances- imagine taking a superfast bus from Portland, OR to San Francisco that had to slow down and stop at multiple rest stations or small towns so 23 people could get out and use the facilities. Intercity bus travel without bathrooms will probably never be that appealing for families, the elderly, or other people with weak bladders. That being said, it looks pretty awesome, if completely impractical.

Leave a comment

You can add images to your comment by clicking here.