World’s Longest Bus Seats More Than 200 Passengers

Dresden, Germany, is getting ready to roll out the world’s longest bus, the 98-foot AutoTram Extra Grand. Dresden news outlet the Local is reporting that the supersized bus, which can carry up to 256 passengers, just went for a test drive.

Even more surprising, the AutoTram can be driven by any bus driver; no special license is required. The bus got the green light because of a special train-like steering algorithm that ensures the two rear sections, which rest on four guided axles, perfectly follow the cab.

Designed and built by the Fraunhofer Institute for Transportation and Infrastructure Systems IVI in Dresden along with the Technical University Dresden, the bus is set to make its debut in congested Dresden traffic in October. Currently, it is undergoing tests in special facilities outside the city.

“Due to its high transport capacity, the AutoTram Extra Grand bridges the gap between conventional city buses and trams, offering new possibilities for an environmental friendly public transport,” the Fraunhofer Institute said in a press release.

Matthias Klinger, director of the Fraunhofer Institute, told the Local there has been a lot of interest from cities in the developing world looking to develop cheap public transport systems.

Do you think the bus is a good idea, or an accident waiting to happen?

[Images courtesy Fraunhofer IVI]

‘Vote Travel’ Bus Coming To A City Near You

The United States Travel Association (U.S. Travel) has rolled out a new plan to spread the word on the importance of tourism in America: A big blue bus that is now making its way across the country on a 20,000-mile tour. The bus is a roving advertisement for U.S. Travel, an organization that is on a mission to highlight the economic benefits of travel. The association makes some pretty good points too, citing that travel contributes $1.9 trillion to the US economy and supports more than 14.4 million jobs here on our home turf. Looks like they’re also having some fun while playing off the current political campaign climate.

The bus tour includes major rallies in select cities (for a full list, see the U.S. Travel website), the first of which was held in Las Vegas on April 12. According to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, tourism is the number one economic driver in southern Nevada, generating $40 billion for the local economy and supporting 37,000 jobs. Upcoming cities include Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, San Diego, Palm Springs, Los Angeles and Phoenix before the bus makes its way through the south toward Florida followed by a jaunt up the East Coast.

If you spot the bus, stop by to learn how to urge your elected representatives and candidates to sign a pledge that supports policies that “safely and effectively reduce barriers to travel to and within the United States,” according to a press release by the U.S. Travel. The bus also has some swag to give out, such as t-shirts and squishy, stress-relieving buses. Of course, you don’t have to search for the bus in order to help, just visit the Vote Travel website where you can fill out a simple form.

Images (top to bottom) The “Vote Travel” bus inside the Tuscahn Canyon in Ivin, Utah [Photo courtesy the United States Travel Association]; Promotional travel postcards ; [Photo courtesy the United States Travel Association]; and officials from the US Travel Association and employees at the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority and Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce to kick off the “Vote Travel” national wide bus tour on April 12, 2012 [Photo by Darrin Bush]

10 reasons to travel to Ljubljana

When I found cheap airfare from Istanbul to Ljubljana, I didn’t find many other travelers who’d been there or even say for sure which country it’s in. The tiny of country of Slovenia is slightly smaller than New Jersey and its capital city isn’t known for much other than being difficult to spell and pronounce (say “lyoob-lyAH-nah”). After spending a few days there last month, I quickly fell madly in love with the city, and recommend to everyone to add to their travel list.


Here are some reasons to love Ljubljana:

1. It’s Prague without the tourists – Ljubljana has been called the next Prague for at least the last 10 years, but the comparison is still apt. Architect Jože Plečnik is known for his work at Prague Castle, but he was born in Ljubljana and is responsible for much of the architecture in the old downtown and the Triple Bridge that practically defines the city. While Prague is a lovely place to visit, it’s overrun in summer with backpackers and tourists. In Ljubljana, the only English I heard was spoken with a Slovenian accent, and there were no lines at any of the city’s attractions.

2. Affordable Europe – While not as cheap as say, Bulgaria, Ljubljana is a lot easier on the wallet than other European capital cities and cheaper than most of its neighbors. I stayed in a perfect room above the cafe Macek in an ideal location for 65 euro a night. A huge three-course dinner for one with drinks at Lunch cafe was 20 euro, and a liter of local wine in the supermarket is around 3-4 euro. I paid 6 euro for entrance into 4 art museums for the Biennial, and the same for all of the castle, including the excellent Slovene history museum, and the funicular ride there and back.3. Everyone speaks English – Sharing borders with Italy, Austria, Hungary and Croatia, Slovenia is multi-cultural and multi-lingual. Everyone I met in Ljubljana spoke at least a few foreign languages including English; one supermarket cashier I met spoke six languages! While a language barrier shouldn’t prevent you from enjoying a foreign country, it’s great when communication is seamless and you can get recommendations from nearly every local you meet.

4. A delicious melting pot – Slovenia’s location also means a tasty diversity of food; think Italian pastas and pizzas, Austrian meats, and Croatian fish. One waiter I spoke to bemoaned the fact that he could never get a decent meal in ITALY like he can in Slovenia. While I’d never doubt the wonders of Italian food, I did have several meals in Ljubljana so good I wanted to eat them all over again as soon as I finished. Standout spots include Lunch Cafe (aka Marley & Me) and it’s next-door neighbor Julija.

5. Great wine – Slovenia has a thriving wine culture, but most of their best stuff stays in the country. A glass of house wine at most cafes is sure to be tasty, and cost only a euro or two. Ljubljana has many wine bars and tasting rooms that are approachable, affordable, and unpretentious. Dvorni Wine Bar has an extensive list, and on a Tuesday afternoon, there were several other mothers with babies, businesspeople, and tourists having lunch. I’m already scheming when to book a stay in a vineyard cottage, with local wine on tap.

6. Al-fresco isn’t just for summer – During my visit in early November, temperatures were in the 50s but outdoor cafes along the river were still lined with people. Like here in Istanbul, most cafes put out heating lamps and blankets to keep diners warm, and like the Turks, Slovenians also enjoy their smoking, which may account for the increase in outdoor seating (smoking was banned indoors a few years ago). The city’s large and leafy Tivoli Park is beautiful year-round, with several good museums to duck into if you need refuge from the elements.

7. Boutique shopping – The biggest surprise of Ljubljana for me was how many lovely shops I found. From international chains like Mandarina Duck (fabulous luggage) and Camper (Spanish hipster shoes) to local boutiques like La Chocolate for, uh, chocolate and charming design shop Sisi, there was hardly a single shop I didn’t want to go into, and that was just around the Stari Trg, more shops are to be found around the river and out of the city center.

8. Easy airport – This may not be first on your list when choosing a destination, but it makes travel a lot easier. Arriving at Ljubljana’s airport, you’ll find little more than a snack bar and an ATM outside, but it’s simple to grab a local bus into town or a shared shuttle for a few euro more. Departing from Slovenia, security took only a few minutes to get through, wi-fi is free, and there’s a good selection of local goodies at Duty Free if you forgot to buy gifts. LJU has flights from much of western Europe, including EasyJet from Paris and London.

9. Access to other parts of country – While Ljubljana has plenty to do for a few days, the country is compact enough to make a change of scenery easy and fast. Skiers can hop a bus from the airport to Kranj in the Slovenian Alps, and postcard-pretty Lake Bled is under 2 hours from the capital. In the summer, it’s possible to avoid traffic going to the seaside and take a train to a spa resort or beach. There are also frequent international connections; there are 7 trains a day to Croatia’s capital Zagreb, and Venice is just over 3 hours by bus.

10. Help planning your visit – When I first began planning my trip, I sent a message to the Ljubljana tourism board, and got a quick response with a list of family-friendly hotels and apartments. Next I downloaded the always-excellent In Your Pocket guide, which not only has a free guide and app, it also has a very active Facebook community with up-to-the-minute event info, restaurant recommendations, deals, and more. On Twitter, you can get many questions answered by TakeMe2Slovenia and VisitLjubljana.

Video of the Day: Bus stops, passengers tumble

Whether part of your commute or part of your travels, buses are often a convenient (and affordable) way to get from Point A to Point B. The downside of buses (other than frequent stops) is the lack of space. The seats are cramped, there’s little room for your belongings and the movement of the bus jostles things around. For all of those reasons, many people covet the middle seat in the back row of many buses. It has no seats in front of it, so you have ample space for your luggage. The aisle provides seemingly infinite legroom. What could possibly go wrong in the middle seat of the back row? Well, the bus could stop short and you could be hurled halfway down the aisle and left on your back with your shirt flung up. But what are the odds of that happening?

MegaBus introduces sleeper bus overnight Glasgow-London

Ever wanted to travel like a rock star? Now in the UK, you can travel on a sleeper bus between Scotland and England and pretend you’re on tour. This week, while budget transportation company MegaBus announced new routes in the southern United States, with free tickets to celebrate), they also introduced a new sleeper bus service between Glasgow and London.

The 400-mile journey is a bit slower by bus than train (just under 8 hours vs. 7 hours, 10 minutes on ScotRail’s overnight service), but it’s cheaper, with fares from 1 to 40 GBP each way. Along with free wi-fi, coffee and tea service, and a plug in each berth for laptops and cell phones, each passengers gets an amenity pack with toothbrush and toothpaste, an eye mask, luggage label, and bottle of water. The 24 beds each have a pillow, duvet, and blanket and there are 24 regular seats as well if you want to spend part of the journey upright.

The BBC took a ride on the new bus and reported that while the berths lack headroom, they are still more comfortable for an overnight journey than a regular seat. One passenger said, “I found myself waking up in a panic, very aware that the ceiling was directly above my head, and I found it very uncomfortable” but still said she’d ride again.

Have you ever ridden on a sleeper bus? Tell us how you slept in the comments.

Photo courtesy MegaBus.