Dresden has unveiled the Autotram Extra Grand, an unfeasibly long bus meant to revolutionize public transport systems – combining the capacity of a train with the manoeuvrability of a bus. It’s 30 metres long, has two waists, and can carry 256 passengers along busy urban streets anywhere. Not only that, the Autotram can be driven by any bus driver – no special license needed.
Designed and built by the Fraunhofer Institute for Transportation and Infrastructure Systems IVI in Dresden and the Technical University Dresden, the bus is currently undergoing tests in special facilities outside the city, but is set to make its debut in Dresden traffic – on normal routes with real passengers – in October.
“There is a lot of know-how invested in it – the computer is driven by a pretty clever steering algorithm,” Matthias Klingner, the institute’s director told The Local. The Autotram comes with a special steering system on its four regulated axles, which ensures that the back sections of the bendy-bus precisely follow the front section.
“Thanks to this patented multiple axis steering, the vehicle can manoeuvre just as easily as a 12-metre bus, forwards as well as backwards,” an institute statement said.
Last week I resigned from my part-time bus driving job. In many ways it was hard decision, the company was one I respected very much, my fellow drivers were a pretty good bunch and all staff are treated well. So why did I resign? In a nutshell I’m too old for the intensity of driving an urban bus service with its need for super alertness whilst negotiating roundabout after roundabout, traffic lights, crossings, parked cars, cyclists, pedestrians, bells ringing every few hundred meters requesting a stop, issuing tickets whilst all the time trying to keep the bus running on time. Its rare to hold a set speed for more than a few moments, you’re always braking then accelerating. Stopping and starting. And doing all that for up to 11 hours a day. It was wearing me out and leaving me irritable once I got home. You need to enjoy your work not only for your own sake but also your employer otherwise you wont be doing it properly. I no longer enjoyed my work so I was doing neither myself, my employer, nor my family any favours.
So today I started my new part-time job (2 days a week) driving a coach. The company I work for do a huge amount of work with the cruise ships that use the Port of Southampton and it’s cruise related work which I’ll be doing. Here’s a picture of my coach as I waited for my passengers today. The ship in the background is the Mein Schiff, a German cruise ship.
I was to do the Windsor Castle shore excursion. We had a nice journey up to Windsor, a Blue Badge guidewas on board to give a running commentary in German on where we were, what they’d see etc All I had to do was give them a nice smooth, safe journey. Once there I parked in the coach park and I had several hours to myself before returning them to the cruise ship by late afternoon.
And a modern coach is such a joy to drive compared with a bus- climate control where the driver’s area can be set differently to the passenger area, no rattles, cruise control, a super adjustable in every direction drivers seat, even a driver’s fridge for sarnies and a drink! Absolutely effortless.