The Superbus was one of the many sustainable inventions that Delft technology professor and former astronaut Wubbo Ockels either came up with or helped develop. It would have comfortably carried 23 passengers in bucket seats on a custom built road between Amsterdam and Groningen, cutting current travel times to shreds.
But even before Ockels’ death in 2014 the Superbus had disappeared off of the world’s radar. It’s website is still up, but hasn’t been updated since 2012, with the exception of an obituary for Ockels. And where did the actual prototype go? Dagblad van het Noorden decided to find out last June.
The prototype is currently stored in a warehouse at the University of Delft, where it was developed. A spokesperson for the university told the paper: “The bus is still in a good condition, although it can no longer be driven. We had to remove the batteries for safety reasons, for example.”
Ockels’ widow Joos told the paper that it would take several months to get the bus roadworthy again. She receives regular calls from people and organisations that want to rent the vehicle for a trip.
The bus’ license plate expired in 2014.
Several organisations have expressed interest for exhibiting the Superbus. The Transport Museum in Lelystad however has to first overcome the obstacle of not yet existing, and a plan to store it in a facility of Stichting Wadduurzaam (presumably so that it could be displayed to the public) failed because the storage space would have to be fixed first, which would be too costly.
Dutch baking show ‘Heel Holland Bakt’ (All of Holland/The Netherlands Bakes’), the Dutch version of ‘The Great British Bake Off’, is promoting the start of their new season with a tram in Amsterdam that smells of apple pie, which is a Dutch first and possibly a world first as well. And it’s my local tram, tram 7, so I may update this post soon enough.
Many viewers have wanted to know what it smells like in the tents on the show where they bake, so here’s an answer, at least for anyone in Amsterdam because despite what certain people might think Amsterdam isn’t all of the Netherlands or Holland (two provinces) for that matter.
It’s what they are going to do about how the pie tastes that could interesting. I vaguely remember tram stops with perfume spritzing out of them, which bothered a lot of people for a lot of legitimate reasons like it’s disgusting and being allergic to perfume.
And feel free to make munchies jokes as well, that’s fair game in Amsterdam.
UPDATE: It’s tram 1, which goes from the West to Amsterdam Central Station, not tram 7 that goes from West to East. The very fake smell of apple pie comes out of a few vents near the doors.
Tom van Oudenaaarden from Utrecht has has a public transport chip implanted in his right hand. The photos of it are nasty because the work has just been done, but the chip works fine, as this very short video proves. So far he has only used his implant to check in and out of ports, and has yet to encounter train staff who would need to check what would normally be a chip card in a handheld device to be sure he’s paid his fare.
And Van Oudenaaarden is no stranger to implants, piercings or tattoos either. He’s had a LED-lamp implanted in his arm and has implanted chips that will start his motorbike and car, open his laptop and his shop. The idea was to get rid of his wallet and a big bunch of keys and show what technology can do.
The province of Gelderland will try to achieve a world first in May 2016 when it hopes to run a shuttle service on public roads using self-driven vehicles.
The vehicles are called Wepods and should drive guests of the University of Wageningen from the nearby rail station of Ede-Wageningen to the university and back. Currently however the vehicle laws of the Netherlands don’t allow self-driven cars on the road. The province hopes to convince the relevant ministries during a demonstration in October. The first Wepod, produced by Ligier in France, was delivered in June.
Rotterdam was the first city in the Netherlands allowing self-driven vehicles on its territory. The Rivium shuttle bus however does not mix with other traffic and has its own road — it operates a bit like a train without the rails.
This is what the buses from my childhood look like and yet I’ve never even been to Cuba.
It appears Cuba buys up old buses from all over the world and doesn’t bother to change the signs denoting the line number and destination. This one says: “Geen dienst”, i.e. no service. RTVNH spotted the old line 14 bus to Uitgeest (a town north of Amsterdam). Checking the Flickr group Dutch Buses in Cuba is like looking at a small history of Dutch public transport.
Yellow is just the livery of this company, it doesn’t denote any specific type of service. The curtain with the sassy fringe seems to be a recent addition though.
On May 1st Rotterdam Central Station proudly announced that only travellers who check in with their public transport chip cards are allowed in the hall of the train station, which until then had been open to nearby employees out to grab some lunch and the likes. Safety was the main reason given, since crimes against train staff have been on the rise for a while and this was supposed to help. Watch the video below though if you want to see train station staff attacking the press.
Due to the low height of the gates, anyone who excels at gate jumping can get by without paying a fare very easily, as no attempt is made at stopping them in the video below. Yes, it does look like jumping hurdles. Problem is the limber people jumping the gates in the evening and taking trains are the baddies who attack train staff. Other major stations have much higher gates, but then the trick is pushing through them at the same time as someone else who has checked in, which doesn’t seem to make things any safer.
Anyone who properly pays their fare might feel screwed over for following the rules while others cheat the system and can move about the station as they please. A good point made in the video is that you can only use your public transport chip card at a train station if you have a balance of 20 euro or more on your card, which is not a requirement with other public transportation. Maybe if that amount were lowered less people would feel inclined to jump over, but it could also be, as they say in Dutch, ‘mopping up with a running faucet’.
Can I still catch the bus or train if I start running now? That is the simple question a new app poses. Its name, Moet Ik Rennen?, is Dutch for should I run?
The app, which saw its beta test launch today, uses the location services of your mobile device to find your current position. It then locates the nearest bus stops and metro and train stations, provides you with departure times and if you select a specific line it tells you if you should hurry.
If you still have to wait a bit for your bus (or train or subway), the app suggests a place to get snacks at a discount. Once you have stuffed your face with excess calories you no longer need the app. Yes, you should run.
Shandrick Elodia, the ‘most amusing bus driver of the Netherlands’ from Enschede was sacked recently for safety reasons. By sacked, I mean not rostered anymore to work, as he didn’t have a permanent contract.
“Are you ready for the ride of your life?”, he would ask depressed passengers and then chat on the microphone and play music like Nirvana’s ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ and Tom Jones’ ‘It’s Not Unusual’. Everybody loved this guy, but he was way too much for his employer.
At some point, Elodia needed something more challenging and wanted to do something about all those sad faces boarding his bus. He once startled an old lady by wishing her a nice evening on the microphone and kept going from there.
Sure, Elodia should have followed the rules (only greeting people) and just done his job or quit and find something else — he is the first to admit that. Elodia has a degree in industrial design, and according to him, his global vision of ‘making poverty cool’ ended up spilling over into his work as a bus driver. “When you’re poor, you have to make due with rubbish products. When I drive up in my happy bus next to some guy in an expensive Mercedes, he sees how much fun the ‘poorer’ people are having and wishes he was in my bus.”
Currently more than ten percent of the bus drivers in the Netherlands work without pay, Volkskrant reports.
Volunteer drivers are used on unprofitable routes, or so the companies that employ them claim. On the other hand Labour union FNV Bondgenoten claims that the amateur drivers are putting paid bus drivers out of work.
Egmond Online writes that line 408 from Egmond-Binnen to Egmond aan de Zee currently employs over 40 volunteers. Els Geugies, chairwoman of Vereniging Dorpsbelangen Egmond-Binnen (Village Association Egmond-Binnen), says that volunteers don’t just drive: “We also need to make schedules, fill up on fuel and clean the bus inside and out.”
Last month the city of Rijsen started using people who are on welfare as cab drivers. Hermien ten Bolscher of cab company Taxi Gerritsen told RTV Oost there weren’t happy with the cheap competition: “As it happens we were also unemployed when we started [four years ago]. We have had to make some big investments in cars, licenses and other things. It is wrong that we now have to compete with cab companies that get subsidized.”
It’s not clear from the article whether the unemployed cab drivers are forced to work for free. None of the articles mention if the amateur drivers have received training.
In the town of Vijlen in the southeasternmost part of the Netherlands, the local bank has shut down all the ATM machines. That is why resourceful villagers have started taking a local tuk-tuk service to Mechelen, 3 miles down the road, to get their cash, Nieuws.nl wrote last Tuesday.
The tuk-tuk, ran by a local volunteer organisation called Traag Heuvelland, has been operational for over two years. Originally it was used to cart tourists around, but these days it is popular with the local elderly in a quickly ageing area of the Netherlands.
The tuk-tuk operators have dubbed their service the ‘pinpendel’ due to its use as a bus service to and from an ATM machine. Viktor Terpstra told Nieuws.nl: “We can take six passengers at a time. The ride takes about half an hour both ways including the money stop. There is a café at the start of the route so that people who missed the tuk-tuk the first time around can have a cup of coffee while they wait.”
Rabobank closed ATM machines in eight villages in the South of Limburg last November because the machines weren’t used often and were difficult to secure against ‘ramkraken’ (ram-raiding).