A new ground service between San Francisco and Los Angeles launched this week and I was asked to try out it personally by Hao Tran, a fellow traveler in the frequent flyer community, who founded the service with his friends. SleepBus is a new startup running sleeper bus service at night between San Francisco and Los Angeles.
The first bus made its inaugural trip from San Francisco to Los Angeles on Monday night. The startup sold 11 tickets in its first trip, each for $48, on the 20-bed Volvo sleeper coach. The bus picks up passengers from the Caltrain station in San Francisco’s South of Market neighborhood at 11 p.m. and drops them off at Santa Monica Pier at 6 a.m. Passengers can sleep in until the 7:30 a.m. checkout.
The process for booking the tickets is dead simple and fast. Within a minute, I had a ticket and confirmation in hand. And at the $48 price point, it’s competitive for last-minute travel.
The vehicle boasts a lounge area, free coffee and tea, free WiFi, and sheets from mattress startup Casper on its twin-sized beds. For those of you that haven’t heard of Casper, their products are superb and it definitely made the difference for me. Service on SleepBus is direct so you can get a full night’s sleep and skip on the extra hotel night. It’s an economical and unique alternative to existing options between the two cities, especially if you consider that the pickup and drop off point in Los Angeles is Santa Monica rather than Union Station where the other bus companies go.
Hao went on to explain that existing bus options between the two cities don’t necessarily prioritize the experience. He and his co-founders hope that by providing amenities like Casper sheets and only operating at night, SleepBus can create a new, reliable option for travelers. Air travel on the other hand can be expensive last-minute and inconvenient given factors like consistent weather delays at SFO and unpredictable traffic to and from LAX. Hao has told us that there are plans for fixed pricing, meaning that the price won’t change for the day of week or if one bus service begins to sell out.
One SleepBus vehicle is contracted to make the ride between San Francisco and Los Angeles for the next two weeks. At the end of the two-week trial, SleepBus plans to bring on additional vehicles. The company ultimately plans to retrofit double-decker Van Hool buses for a capacity of 28 to 32 beds per vehicle.
I’d check them out next time you’re traveling between the two cities if flight options prove to be too expensive or there’s no award availability left.