155mph SuperBus to surf streets by 2008

Do you know what, I hate public transport.  Whether it's bad karma or just standard fare, I always seem to end up sat next to the drooling, odorous weird person.  So given the choice of taking my car (where I can listen to my own choice of music and not have to worry about someone twenty stone heavier than me taking up seven-eighths of the seat) or fitting in with current eco-policy and taking a bus, train or tram, pretty much 100% of the time I'll have the car keys clenched so hard in my hand that they leave permanent imprints.  That is, until I saw this:

It's not a grotesquely stretched Maybach 65, nor is it the latest in gauche limousines for prom nights and tacky weddings – it's actually an electric bus.  To be precise, it's the 155mph electric SuperBus, designed by the Delft University of Technology in the lovely Netherlands.  It doesn't actually hit those speeds on standard roads; instead, it seamlessly switches between normal tarmac and dedicated "supertracks" where it can rev up to full speed.  A body the length and width of a standard bus but only 1.7m high allows for an aerodynamic shape aeons away from the rolling-brick design of current buses; that means the energy required to get it moving is far more modest, with engineers torn between fuel cell and battery power sources. 

Perhaps most appealing to lazy sods like me is the fact that I wouldn't have to trek all the way to the nearest bus stop – instead I'd text my transport request and be picked up at home.  Each of the 30 seats has its own door, partly due to a lack of standing room and partly for speed of loading and unloading.  They won't have much time to get stained and ripped, either; the bus has a predicted three year lifespan, purposefully short so that new technologies can be quickly introduced.

The intention is to have a fully functional SuperBus prototype complete by the 2008 Olympics held in Beijing.  Given that they've just received an extra €8m in funding from government and private sources, that doesn't seem too far fetched a goal.  While we wait, there's this video (.mov format) to keep us entertained.

Economist [via The Raw Feed]