Ice Angels to Amphibious Buses: 7 Unique Modes of Public Transport From Around the World
To think that you can ride a train upside down is just bizarre, right? Wait till you read about the vehicle that can navigate on a 2-mile ice highway without compromising commuters’ safety.
If you thought that commuting via tuk-tuks in Thailand and rickshaw pullers in Kolkata is in itself an adventure, here are some other quirky modes of transportation from around the world.
Lce Angel, USA
The idea of Ice Angels originated in the early 2000s from an idea by Wisconsin Congressman David Obey. They were created in response to a tragic incident where a 16-year-old boy died in a snowmobiling accident on thin ice in Wisconsin’s Apostle Islands.
Initially met with political scepticism and criticism, the Ice Angels gained attention after their successful rescue, leading to widespread adoption by law enforcement groups around the Great Lakes. These boats are the only mode of transportation that takes local residents from Madeline Island.
Monte Toboggan, Portugal
The Monte Toboggan has been a popular attraction in Madeira since the 1850s. It features the Monte Sledge—a wicker toboggan that served as Funchal’s main downhill transportation.
Today, tourists enjoy the “Carro de Cesto,” a wicker basket attached to two wooden runners, propelled by two men called “Carreiros.” Dressed in white with straw hats and specialized rubber-soled shoes for steering, these chauffeurs provide a thrilling 10-minute downhill ride from Nossa Senhora do Monte Church to Livramento. The toboggan covers two kilometres at speeds of up to 30mph.
Cyclos (Xich Lo), Vietnam
Experiencing a cyclo ride is a must-try when in Vietnam, offering a peaceful opportunity to welcome the gentle breeze during sunsets and sunrises.
It was introduced in 1939 by Coupeaud, a French gentleman from Charente. It was initially designed with three wheels and pulled by individuals. Over time, it evolved into a pedal-powered mode of transportation. To promote this unique form of travel, Coupeaud organized a remarkable 200km journey from Phnom Penh, Cambodia, to Saigon, Vietnam, paddled by two riders in a continuous effort lasting 17 hours and 23 minutes.
In its early days, only 40 cyclos were crafted in Saigon, but by the following year, the number surged to 200. The cyclo quickly gained popularity, becoming a distinctive local transport style across Hanoi, Hoian, and Ho Chi Minh City. Tourists appreciate the comfortable and slow-paced exploration of these cities.
These three-wheeled bicycle taxis were first used during the French colonial period to transport passengers and goods. It resembles a reverse rickshaw in design, with passengers comfortably seated in front while the driver pedals from behind through the bustling streets of Vietnam. Initially made for practical use, cyclos have evolved into a charming tourist experience, offering a unique and leisurely way of exploring and experiencing Vietnam.
Dog Sledding, Sweden, Finland & Norway
Dog sledging in Sweden, Norway and Finland is a cherished Arctic tradition and a thrilling bucket-list experience. It offers a unique connection with nature as you explore the stunning landscapes on snowy trails.
Despite the initial excitement of the dogs, the ride becomes peacefully quiet, allowing for an intimate experience with the Arctic tundra. There are various tour options catering to different preferences and experiences, from introductory half-day experiences to epic multi-day safaris.
Suspension Railway, Germany
Entrepreneur Eugen Langen was experimenting with a suspension railway at his sugar factory in Cologne. He seized an opportunity when the city of Wuppertal faced transportation challenges due to its booming textile industry and winding river valley. In 1893, Langen proposed his suspension railway system to Wuppertal, and the city accepted it.
More than 85,000 people in Wuppertal use the upsidedown train every day. Believed to be the oldest electric suspension railway, it was started in 1901 as the Suspension Monorail, or Shwebebahn as it’s known in German. Close to 20,000 tons of steel was used to create the 13.3km long railway track.
Amfibus is a hybrid vehicle, constructed by DAT (Dutch Amphibious Transport). It has seamlessly served as both a bus and a boat for over a decade in various Dutch cities. This versatile mode of transportation accommodates up to 50 passengers, reaching speeds of 60mph (97kmph) on the road and 6.5 knots in water, offering an efficient and unique travel experience.