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.
On April 4 former astronaut Wubbo Ockels showcased his Superbus to the press at a former air strip near Leiden.
For those of you who don’t remember, the Superbus is a bus shaped like a race car. Its top speed is 250 kph, to be reached in custom bus lanes. Its aerodynamic shape not only allows it to go fast, but apparently also makes it energy efficient. It can carry up to 23 passengers.
The Superbus prototype is on display at the 59th UITP Congress & Exhibition in Dubai starting today. A feasibility study has shown that the Superbus might be the most efficient public transport option between Amsterdam and Groningen, a distance of 180 kilometres that nevertheless takes two hours by car and even two and a half hours by train. The Dutch government, one of the major backers of the project, is said to have cooled considerably on the Superbus idea, and Ockels now hopes to be able to convince Arabian backers of the usefulness of a fast Abu Dhabi – Dubai connection.
The Superbus, designed by former Dutch astronaut Wubbo Ockels, will get its first road trial on 25 June. The bus, which can woosh by at 250 km/h, is set to trial run on a 27-kilometer stretch of highway between Harlingen and Leeuwarden, Friesland. The highway will of course be closed for the occasion. Ockels announced the trial last Wednesday during a meeting at the head office of transport company Connexxion, one of the sponsors of the Superbus.
And yes, the Superbus does look like the famous alien designed by the H.R. Giger.