Buses, taxis and trains are found throughout the world, but sometimes the usual modes acquire an unusual shape.
It has long been known that the trip to the place you are interested in can be a real adventure, and this is true, especially if you have to make the journey on one of the most unusual means of transport.
Here’s a collection of 10 unusual modes of public transportation—or, shall we say, unusual for the reader perhaps, but completely normal for the locals.
1. Floating Bus – Hippo, Canada
A Hippo is a unique 40 passenger vessel that offers land and water tours of Toronto. Come splash into Lake Ontario on our “Bus that Floats!”
Experience an urban safari in one of Canada’s most beautiful cities with all its historical sites and its magnificent waterways. This unusual city tour of Toronto offers a fantastic adventure for the family or for tourists. It is 90-minute long.
2. Hanging Train – Schwebebahn, Germany
The Wuppertal Schwebebahn is the continent’s only suspension urban rail line, which for most of its length runs 12 m (39 ft) above the river Wupper (10 km or 6 mi). Only the westernmost section between Sonnborner Straße and Vohwinkel runs 8 meters (26 ft) above streets (3.3 km or 2 mi). This line can be called a full metro line because it’s totally independent, absolutely urban and runs on a 4-6 minute headway.
For almost 100 years this was one of the safest means of transport in the world, but unfortunately in April 1999 a bad accident happened after repair work had been carried out during the weekend and 3 people lost their lives and more than 40 were injured as a train fell down into the river Wupper. The single rail which carries the train is supported by 472 iron arches that span over the river bed. Currently all these arches are being replaced and also stations are being restored, most of them in their original Jugendstil design.
3. Underground Funicular – Carmelit, Israel
The Carmelit is an underground funicular railway in Haifa, Israel. It opened in 1956, and closed in 1986 after showing signs of aging. It reopened in September 1992 after extensive renovations. Because much of Haifa is built on top of Mount Carmel, the Carmelit (named after this mountain) is an underground funicular that goes up and down the mountain. The altitude difference between the first and last stations is 274 meters (900 feet).
Carmelit cars have a slanted design, with steps within each car and on the station platform. Since the gradient varies along the route, the floor of each car is never quite level, and slopes slightly “uphill” or “downhill” depending on the location. The Carmelit is one of the smallest subway systems in the world, having only four cars, six stations and a single tunnel 1,8km (1,1mi) long.
4. Polar Rover, Canada
They look like jacked-up buses on monster truck wheels. But did you know that the specially outfitted and heated polar rovers that used to see polar bears in the wild in northern Canada started out as airport fire control crash trucks? They’re custom redesigned to deal with the rugged conditions that an icy, choppy and rocky tundra present – and to make a comfortable ride for travelers on the lookout for the icon of the Arctic.
5. Ice Angel, USA
Madeline Island is the only one of Wisconsin’s Apostle Islands that is inhabited and it is connected to Bayfield on the mainland by ferry in the summer and by a two-mile ice highway in the winter when the waters of Lake Superior freeze over. However, during that transitional stage, when the ice is not strong enough to support a vehicle, the connection is serviced by ice boats with air propellers. How else would the kids get to school?
6. Canal Taxi, Thailand
Bangkok is sometimes called the “Venice of the East” due to its network of canals. River and canal taxis are still an important part of the city transit system and in many cases are much faster than the gridlocked traffic on the roads. This particular canal route goes right through the heart of downtown. Due to the fluctuating tides and some low bridges, it is necessary for the boat to “duck” at some points. The boats will slow at low bridges and the canvas canopy will drop a bit, forcing all passengers to crouch for a moment.
7. Bamboo Train, Cambodia
Those with a strong constitution may want to ride a Cambodian bamboo train – known locally as a nori. Passengers sit on a makeshift bamboo ‘train’ (basically just a bamboo platform) powered by an electric generator engine, perched just inches above the railway tracks and travelling at up to 40km/h (25 mph). The unmaintained railway tracks make for a bumpy ride and the closest you’ll get to luxury is sitting on a grass mat. But the fares are low and this is a once in a lifetime experience, as all the locals use them for getting around. Pick up a nori from Battambang station.
8. Aerial Tramway, USA
The Roosevelt Island Tramway is an aerial tramway in New York City that spans the East River and connects Roosevelt Island to Manhattan. Each cabin has a capacity of up to 110 people and makes approximately 115 trips per day. The tram moves at about 17.9 mph (28.8 km/h) and travels 3,100 feet (940 m) in 3 minutes.
At its peak it climbs to 250 feet (76 m) above the East River as it follows its route on the north side of the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge, providing views of the East Side of midtown Manhattan.