There’s A New Luxury Bus Services On The Block, With Starbucks Feel

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Mar 26 2015
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There’s a new transportation service which could make you the envy of your facebook friends, simply because you live in San Francisco while they are not. Launched last week, the new private bus service offered by “Leap Transit” makes you feel more like “Starbucks than a bus.” Costing US$6 (£4; RM22) for a single ride (US$5 if you buy in bulk), the bus service is a premium compared to normal public buses charging US$2.25.

Leap Transit - blue bus exterior

The startup’s fleet consists of five vehicles, for now, and were all stripped naked to an empty box before retrofitted with reclaimed wood, creamy leather, blue LED lights. Each bus has WiFi, USB outlets, a laptop bar and delicious food for purchase. You can order food and drinks through the Leap app, which also lets you track and board the buses (by scanning your pass over an iPad) and see who the other riders are.

Leap Transit - scan your pass iPadLeap Transit - interior black leather seats

Backed with US$2.5 million from Andreessen Horowitz, Index Ventures, Slow Ventures and Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff, the 25-seat buses only run during peak hours (weekdays), heading downtown from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. and back to the Marina from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., a 30-minute route that makes four stops at each end. If you don’t have a smartphone (iPhone or Android) to board, you can print a paper pass.

Leap Transit - Leap app on iPhoneLeap Transit - creamy leather back seat

Just like air stewardesses on commercial airplane, every Leap bus has a bus attendant to answer your questions. Dressed in a Leap shirt, the attendant’s job is to mans the QR code scanner when people board, makes sure the temperature is just right, hands out refreshments, and chooses music to play over the Beats Bluetooth speaker. Of course, he sells Blue Bottle iced coffee, Noosa yogurt, or Happy Moose cold-pressed juices too.

Leap Transit - bus attendantLeap Transit - food counter

But Leap Transit will not likely to have a smooth ride. For a start it has to compete with two other private transportation providers namely Loup and Chariot, not to mention Google private buses. Then there’re people who live in the Marina who don’t want anymore traffic hence tons of complaints for such luxury bus services. The fact that Leap doesn’t have a permit to operate as a transit service means it can’t use bus stops in the city.

Leap Transit - WiFi, USB outlets, a laptop bar

So, whenever a homeowner complains, Leap has to move their stop-sign elsewhere. The challenge is obviously finding a stop that doesn’t block traffic nor offend property owners. As much as all three companies – Loup, Chariot and now Leap – argue that privatization of public transit system has great prospect, the fact remains that a transit system is incredibly costly to operate.


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