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Seaboard92

SF and LA on SleepBus

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When I was pursuing Facebook yesterday I saw someone post this interesting link to a new company in California. There is now a new way to go from SFO to LAX via the overnight bus. Instead of sitting in a seat the passengers lay down in something like a open section from the Pullman Days. I find it an interesting little operation. And if it works it proves there is a market for an overnight train between the two points as well. The prices seem fairly reasonable all things considered. And it looks like a nice bus. From a business stand point the 28 bunk bus brings in 1820 a run, and the 12 bunk bus brings in 1680. So over the year the 12 bunk bus brings in minus expenses 613,200. And the 28 bunk bus brings in 664,300. Bringing the company to 1,277,500 in income before paying drivers, gas, maintenance, staff, and other costs. I'm not convinced its viable to run it. But if there is a market then it might do well. I'll post in Amtrak's Future about a night train on the route.

 

http://www.sleepbus.co

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Very intriguing. I almost have an inclination to try the service out, but there is a major hold-up for me. The complete lack of any quality information is troubling, and that website is a joke by 2016 standards. I want to know about things such as:

  • sleeper compartment dimensions
  • luggage/storage options
  • company insurance coverage/liability limits
  • cancellation/delayed trip rights for customers
  • driver training info
  • vehicle information/equipment age
  • additional fees, if any

And, of course, better photographs. For someone with multiple options like we have in California, more information and publicity is a good thing. As it stands right now, without more information, I'm not exactly leaping at the chance to try this out. Also, they need a better stop in San Francisco. 24th and Mission is not the best neighborhood.

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I agree with Blackwolf. I tried a 'dummy booking' to see if I could glean some more info that way, but not successful. They asked for acceptance of their policy, but when I clicked on it, it came up blank. Interesting how they will let you board a couple of hours early, and remain on board up to five hours after arrival....looks like they used old Pullman Company practice for their model...a combination of Pullman, and Pickwick Nite Coach, that is..... :P

 

I will follow this with interest. The photo's show what appear to be 12 bunk (plus a master bedroom) "entertainer" coach that are usually employed hauling bands on tour around the country. Those are nicely equipped with showers and galleys, but no mention was made of those services other than coffee....

The 28 bunk 'section' bus mentioned in the first post is not shown....but I have seen similar years ago hauling a ski club between Wichita and the Colorado ski slopes on weekends....those could sleep up to forty.... :o

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One of the things that causes concern for me is that the contact phone number comes back to a Minnesota area code. So either it's someone's cell phone number (which a cursory googling of the number leads me to believe it is) and could be fly by nightish, or if it's a landline then there is no local structure in place. Sounds interesting though, guess we'll see how it works out. I also agree that they could use a better SF stop than 24th and Mission.

Edited by tp49

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I also found the lack of information very eye opening. And quite frankly that really bothers me. It seems like an interesting operation. I'm not sure they can make it work from a business stand point. I'm also wondering what customer market they are trying to get. With the times after and before business I would want to think business travelers. But with the sleep till noon I almost want to say tourists or college students because of that. And I'm not sure they can get the business travelers who tend to not be bus people. And college students I'm not sure on

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I tried to make a dummy booking and there seems to be a bug that it forgets the travel date I selected and asks again.

 

It's going to need some work still if this is to look professional.

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They launched Monday night. http://www.inc.com/tess-townsend/sleepbus-gets-you-from-sf-to-la-for-50.html

http://gizmodo.com/would-you-ride-a-bus-from-sf-to-la-if-you-could-sleep-t-1771921091

 

It seems interesting and I might try it at some point. The LA location is geared towards techies, at the Santa Monica pier, although it has terrible transit access until May 20, when the Expo Line will bring it much closer to the Westside. The 4th and King location in San Francisco is near SoMA and has better access than the Mission.

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I was willing to write-off some of the website quirks mentioned upthread because at that point in time, the company hadn't actually started operating yet.

 

Twice today, however, I've gone on the website to try to price out an itinerary. Both times the website gave me an error message.

 

I was using Firefox, but I tried again using Internet Explorer and it worked that time. At any rate, I think they're going to have to get their IT in shape real soon,

because the techies that may use this route aren't going to be impressed with a sloppy web interface.

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Yeah. The first time I tried to use it in Firefox it glitched out for me as well. Internet Explorer seems to work, but when I tried to book a date six weeks in advance (6/3/2016) I click "Pay with Card" and get this:

"This Sleepbus trip is coming soon, we will be emailing you when it is available! Please contact us @ reservations@sleepbus.co if you have additional questions, thanks!"

 

I may try it again for a trip in the future (a Spirit ticket MSP - LAX + this LAX - SFO may still be cheaper than a ticket MSP - SFO, plus the concept seems cool) but I'm not sold they'll last long enough for me to try it if there's these glitches (or, in the case of Internet Explorer, forcing me to get all the way to the purchase screen before telling me tickets aren't yet bookable.)

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Based on the website and facebook page, it appears to be a Volvo Truck Conversion, not an entertainer coach. Truck Conversions usually ride very rough (like a truck.)

 

I'm not sure if the general public will grasp this... you are basically renting a bunk. On top of that, you could have a lower, middle, or top bunk. It appears to have only curtains, which means nothing is keeping you from falling out of the bunk. This is very standard on entertainer coaches, but entertainer coaches do not have the general public riding.

 

I do think luxury busses can be very popular. RedCoach in Florida and Vonlane in Texas seem to be doing it right with Prevost Busses with roomy 2x1 Reserved seating.

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Or a great idea that could be used to augment Amtrak service?

 

http://www.msn.com/en-us/autos/news/sleepbus-runs-overnight-between-sf-and-la-for-dollar48/ar-BBsOGmV?ocid=spartanntp

 

This would make a great alternative to the present bus ride on the Los Angeles to Las Vegas trip. What other overnight bus segments would you like to see, if something like this was the carrier? The only Amtrak "service" that I've experienced that I absolutely HATED was an overnight bus ride from Kansas City MO (Southwest Chief) to connect with the Heartland Flyer in OKC the next morning. Next time, I'll walk. Seriously, what do you all think?

 

Mods, if this post is off topic, feel free to move it. Thanks!

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Perhaps of more interest is the fact that Megabus have had a sleeper service in the UK for a couple of years now operating between London and Scotland.

 

It was piloted with a converted articulated coach previously used on commuter services into Glasgow. IIRC, the original operating conditions required every passenger to have a seat as well as a berth.

 

Currently the service is operated by a fleet of double decker Van Hools with convertible berths. These make their way on to some seated daytime services with the berths folded away.

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Would there be a place to get changed on the bus or would passengers have to embark/disembark in their pajamas? :P

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It looks like vaporware as the original concept used rental trailers. Allegedly they will get more buses soon, but it seems odd why they wouldn't just run two buses (on in each direction) with maybe Tuesday and Wednesday off until they can ramp up, and just sell out that to show investors demand, than halt the service for three or more months. I think they are getting trouble getting investment as the niche may be too small (millennials living in coastal areas who don't want to fly but can afford double the price of Bolt or Mega between the two points).

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Would there be a place to get changed on the bus or would passengers have to embark/disembark in their pajamas? :P

They'll do exactly what people do on 16 hour flights in Business Class lie flat seats. Sleep in whatever they are wearing, which usually tend to be comfy travel clothes. For that matter that is what I mostly do in Amtrak Roomettes too. No big deal.

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They sent out an email today saying that they will launch at the end of the year. They are apparently procuring their own buses and will not use the rented trucks. Then again, the X Train allegedly had its own equipment too. I'll believe it when I see it.

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The photo makes those 'cabins' look extremely claustrophobic to me...looks like they are stacked two high, on the 'upper level', and you crawl in and out thru your aisle window? Wish there were more photo's showing the vehicle. They do mention a common lounge with tables on the lower level, as well as a restroom, pantry, and baggage area....

I wonder if they are using Van Hool DD's or some truck chassis mounted custom body?

 

Edit: It is a Van Hool TD 925....I found this article with some more info...also check out the comments...

http://travelskills.com/2017/06/28/sleep-pods-la-san-francisco/

Edited by railiner

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The thing that's really unclear about what I'm seeing now is how early I could board or how late I can stay on upon arrival. The single price is cheaper than a hotel room + transportation, but two people would be equal (assuming $49 airfare/person + $100ish hotel room...after taxes that's probably $220-$230 and the bus is $230, and you have to be flexible to get a $49 airfare reliably.) However, if I can't really settle in until 11 PM or close to it and I'm being booted off right around 7 AM, I'd rather fly in the night before and settle into the hotel room I'll be in for the next few days (or sleep in my own bed and pull an early morning flight.)

 

If they have flexibility to allow people to board (or at least drop off their bags and freshen up) by 3-4 PM (check-in time for a hotel) and stay on as late as 11 AM (check-out time for a hotel) I could see it being a "hotel alternative" for that night. But if I'm having to lug around my bags all evening or go to my meeting without a shower after sleeping all night, I don't see it getting a ton of traction.

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From the looks of it, I don't think you would want to spend much time sitting in that vehicle...I wonder if you could event sit straight up in those tiny cabins, and I don't know how many seats the "communal area" has...

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In FAQ section:

 

"Where are the pick-up and drop-off locations?

 

The pick-up and drop-off locations are listed within your reservation confirmation email or by logging into your Cabin account on our website. We will notify you should the location change for any upcoming trips you have booked."

 

How are you supposed to plan for that? How do you know the LA destination isn't in the middle of Compton?

 

Assuming the departure/arrival locations are safe and convenient, sounds like a good idea in theory. In practice, that's another story.

Edited by Philly Amtrak Fan

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From the looks of it, I don't think you would want to spend much time sitting in that vehicle...I wonder if you could event sit straight up in those tiny cabins, and I don't know how many seats the "communal area" has...

 

Doesn't look like you can sit up. I suppose that's why there's a "communal area." Would be nice if they had a pic of that. Would also be nice if they offered dimensions. For a tall person, there's a big difference between a cabin that's 6'4" and a cabin that's 6'10" in length.

 

 

 

How are you supposed to plan for that? How do you know the LA destination isn't in the middle of Compton?

 

 

 

Yeah, I don't know why they need to be so obtuse about it. However, if you do a dummy booking, you can find the info. SF location is 1 Bryant St, and the LA location is Ocean Ave & Arizona Ave in Santa Monica (so not actually in LA).

 

Side note: This company bans all children under the age of 10. I can see their argument (actually, they don't attempt to justify this policy, it just "is.") But I'm hard-pressed to think of any other form of transportation that simply bans a certain age group entirely. Forget "unaccompanied minors", this is an outright ban.

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