If you’ve watched any futuristic sci-fi flick in the past 30 years, you’re probably still waiting around for flying cars, teleportation, and light-speed travel. Fear not, our fellow tech geeks — the future is here … or at least part of it. China recently unveiled a unique bus that’s elevated to let vehicles pass under it, and that made us wonder about what other unique public transport is out there?

Here’s our rundown — both super new and charmingly old — on public transport experiences that are truly one of a kind, and how you can ride them. All aboard!

Olli

While still very much being road-tested, Olli is a 3D printed, self-driving, electric-powered 12-seater minibus that can be seen or ridden on public roads in the small neighborhood of National Harbor in Maryland. Olli is also interactive, able to understand voice commands thanks to the IBM Watson interactive interface, so you can tell it where you need to go, ask what the weather’s like, and get recommendations on the best cafés nearby. The minibus is expected to ease congestion and also function much like Uber, with riders requesting pick up at just a click of an app.

How do I ride it? Since it’s not running on a schedule this summer, contact Olli’s makers at Local Motors or visit their store to try some carbon-free cruising for free this summer.

Maglev trains

Credit - Max Talbot-Minkin/Flickr Creative Commons

Credit – Max Talbot-Minkin/Flickr Creative Commons

Using a magnetic field that allows them to levitate off the tracks and propel themselves at ridiculously crazy speeds, maglev trains can now be found in a handful of countries. Commuters can zip around on select lines in China, South Korea, and Japan, while numerous other countries are also planning to jump on the blisteringly swift bandwagon.

How do I ride it?

China:

The Shanghai Maglev Train is able to cover the 30km between Pudong International Airport and Longyang Road Metro station on the eastern edge of Shanghai in just 7 minutes, which comes out to a speed of 268 mph.

The Changsha Maglev in the Hunan Province runs between Changsha Huanghua International Airport and Changsha South Railway Station.

Japan:

The Linimo line operates in Aichi and covers 9 km (5.6 mi).

South Korea:

The Incheon Airport Maglev connects Incheon International Airport with Yongyu.

Hovertravel (hovercraft ferry service in the UK)

Credit - ghazala_anis/Flickr Creative Commons

Credit – ghazala_anis/Flickr Creative Commons

Hovercrafts may not be as cool as they were in the 60s and 70s, when they were predicted to be the ultimate all-terrain vehicle. Their gas-guzzling nature gradually put them out of favor for more cost-effective options like wave-piercing catamarans. But if you want to have a unique transit experience and float over the water like a boss, then the Hovertravel ferry between Portsmouth to the Isle of Wight (the longest running commercial hovercraft ferry) will let you feel a bit retro as you get your hover on.

How do I ride it? Grab it between the two transit points of the ferry for a single fare of about ₤16. 50 (about $22)

Ice Angel

If you ever find yourself stranded on Madeline Island (the only one of Wisconsin’s Apostle Islands that is inhabited) in the transitional, slushy ice phase of winter, getting to the closest town of Bayfield on the mainland might be impossible. In between the time when Lake Superior is still liquid and before it freezes into a solid ice highway, locals depend on the Ice Angel windsled – a fan-powered, 22-passenger vehicle that can glide across the ice and can float on water too – to get them across the 2.5-mile divide.  You’ll be across in about 4 minutes, while a regular ferry would take 25.

How do I ride it? While we’re sure the Ice Angel is mainly for students who need to commute between the two locations, for emergency travel, and transporting essentials, try showing up and mingling with the locals and you’re sure to get a free ride across.

Underground Funicular in The Tünel

A funicular railway is one that’s operated by cable, with trains going up and down an incline being counterbalanced with each other. In Istanbul, Turkey, you can use The Tünel — one of the oldest subways (after London’s underground) in the world — and ride up or down the short distance between the northern shore of the Golden Horn and the beginning of the famous pedestrian mall that is İstiklal Caddesi in Beyoğlu.

How do I ride it: Prices may change, but a single trip should cost about 5 Turkish Liras (about $2)

Have you used any unique, or even bizarre,  public transportation anywhere in the world? Let us know in the comments below.

 

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About The Author

Dhinesh Manuel

Socialite, philanthropist, costumed crime fighter by night...no wait...that's Batman...my bad ... Musician, writer, travel junkie, dog lover, and database of useless information. I love to learn about new cultures, experience new cuisines, meet new people, and have a few laughs along the way!