Amphibious bus rides the tides of Hamburg

Hamburg has a new attraction: the Hafencity Riverbus, Germany's first amphibious bus, takes visitors on a city tour across land and water.

The amphibious vehicle is ideally suited to the port city on the Elbe, since the vast majority of its tourist attractions are located either on or adjacent to the water. Thus, the new attraction combines tours of the harbour and the city.

On land, the new river bus travels much like a normal scheduled-service bus and it is even equipped with stop request buttons. This is not because it will actually be calling at any stops on its way, but rather because it was a requirement for this unusual vehicle to be granted a permit. Meeting the unique challenges took owner Fred Franken four years before the initial idea finally became a reality. Obtaining the permit presented the greatest challenge, as German traffic law does not provide for amphibious vehicles.

"I already had the idea for this kind of project 18 years ago," explained Franken, a shipping merchant and self-confessed bus enthusiast. "Back then, I had seen a similar attraction in Singapore and it was immediately obvious to me that we definitely had to bring something like this to Hamburg."

"In the first two months of operation, we have already had over 6,000 passengers on board, including locals as well as many people from further afield," added Franken. Other cities have also been keeping an eye on the developments in Hamburg's harbour, with orders for a further five to seven amphibious buses already in the pipeline.

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