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Superbus arrives for first viewing outside Europe

The Superbus (Supplied)

By Staff

The Superbus concept, which could give business commuters and tourists a new luxury high-speed link between Abu Dhabi and Dubai, moves a step closer to fruition in the UAE  next week when it will be showcased outside Europe for the first time.

The first prototype version of the Superbus makes its Middle East debut when it goes on show at the five-day UITP Mobility and City Transport Expo getting under way on Sunday at Dubai National Exhibition and Convention Centre.

The electric-powered cross-over between a bus and a limousine can travel at 250 kmh and is being presented to UAE Government authorities as the future of public transportation for business commuters and tourists in the UAE, and in other Gulf countries.

Carrying 23 passengers at 250 kmh on a dedicated “speed track”, the Superbus will cut the commute time between Abu Dhabi and Dubai to 30 minutes, and is seen by its European designers as the shape of things to come in sustainable transport.

The Superbus is the brainchild of a design team at TU Delft University of Technology in Holland who have brought the prototype to the UAE after an exploratory initial visit coinciding with last month’s Commercial Vehicles Middle East exhibition and conference in Dubai. During the visit the Superbus project was presented to senior officials of Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority.

It has been dubbed the “Dutch solution” to the three ills of public transportation: congestion, pollution, and safety.

Accompanying the vehicle in the UAE this week are senior delegates of the design team, including Wubbo Ockels, General Manager; Antonia Terzi, Chief Designer, and Joris Melkert, Manager of Infrastructure and Logistics.

The Superbus will be in the UAE for two weeks, and following its appearance at the UITP Expo it will move on to the UAE capital where the Abu Dhabi Department of Transport will take the vehicle for a test drive.

“The Superbus will tackle the challenges of mobility, spatial planning, service detail and environmental demands all in one,” said chief designer Antonia Terzi, the Italian former chief aerodynamicist of the BMW-Williams Formula 1 team.

“Superbus will have an intelligent routing system rather than a fixed schedule. Commuters will book online or with their mobile phone, and the bus picks them up and drops them at their desired location.”

Offering the convenience of a car, the Superbus is 15 meters long and has eight doors on each side. It would run on a dedicated two-lane highway between Abu Dhabi and Dubai, and leave the “speed track” in urban areas to drop off passengers at agreed locations.

Powered by lithium iron phosphate batteries, the 530bhp carbon fibre vehicle is similar in length and width to a public bus, but with the height of a conventional SUV. The Superbus, which uses rear wheel steering, boasts high maneuverability, formidable breaking power and safety based on the use of advanced radar and electronic obstacle detection systems.

The Superbus project is backed by the Dutch government as well as ten sponsors and 56 suppliers. A business study carried out by the Dutch government for a high speed connection between Amsterdam and Groningen in the north of Holland found the Superbus concept to be the best option in terms of infrastructure costs, impact on the environment and passenger numbers.

The first Superbus road tests took place in Holland last September. Although no feasibility studies have been done yet for the Abu Dhabi-Dubai route, the similar Amsterdam-Groningen route has been studied by the Dutch government, with other high speed connection routes currently under evaluation for several other countries around the world.