Flying river taxis return to Seine

SeaBubbles resume testing after six-month absence due to red tape and river regulations in capital

Futuristic electrically powered river taxis that 'fly' above the water have resumed testing on the Seine in Paris after a six-month absence.

The SeaBubbles project, the brainchild of inventor Alain Thébault, seemed dead in the water following initial testing last year, after river regulations appeared to scuttle the scheme due in part to speed limits on the Seine in Paris.

SeaBubbles need to reach 18kph to rise on to their hydrofoils and can skim the water surface at speeds of up to 30kph, more than double the 12kph river speed limit. The idea became bound up in more port authority red tape, while spiralling costs persuaded Mr Thébault to launch the vehicles in Geneva rather than Paris.

But the Swiss plan has also hit bureaucratic problems, and Mayor Anne Hidalgo has persuaded regulatory authorities to think again as the river vessels, which can carry five people including the pilot, could be a real bonus for the city.

But the vehicles - which produce no noise, create very small wakes and no carbon emissions - returned to the Seine in the capital at the weekend in time for the Salon Vivatech, which runs from Thursday to Saturday and where the vessels will be on display.

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