Maybe you’re reading this while slogging through soul-crushing traffic during the long holiday weekend. You might wish you could just curl up with that book stowed away in the trunk or catch up on some sleep from a tiring week at work.
None of that is happening on this road trip, but when Cabin, a sleeping bus, launches later this month, getting a full night’s sleep in an actual bed while riding on the freeway won’t be just a dream.
The special double-decker buses will take paying passengers between San Francisco and Los Angeles starting July 14 on tour buses re-outfitted with 24 beds, or sleeping pods, and a lounge space, bathroom, and, of course, Wi-Fi.
Cabin co-founder and CEO Tom Currier calls the buses a “moving hotel” since “buses have such a negative brand perception.”
While hotel might be a stretch for the stacked rows of sleep pods that provide 36 inches of overhead clearance, it is a full bed with a fluffy pillow, hotel-style mattress and comfy comforter, along with a reading light, outlet, AC vent, window, and a privacy curtain for good measure. It looks a lot like these sleeping nooks on long-haul Virgin Australia flights.
During a tour of the bus led by Currier, he made it clear this isn’t a packed-in-like-sardines experience. “This is the polar opposite of a bus,” he said. While it’s technically very much still a bus, walking through the lounge and up the stairs to the beds, it feels something like a cross between a dorm room and a first-class luxury plane cabin.
Cabin’s buses (the San Francisco startup has built three so far) are not a cheap Megabus alternative to travel the nearly 400 miles between the two major cities, but for $115 you get some shut-eye in a real bed and get to wake up at your destination. The bus leaves at 11 p.m. and arrives by 7 a.m. But you can keep sleeping until 9 a.m. if you need a few more Zs.
Cabin, which until a few days ago was known as SleepBus, was a hit last year with three days of sold-out test drives up and down California. From the success of those trips with more than 20,000 people on a wait list for what was then only $45 trips, Cabin became a full-fledged hospitality transportation company with more than $3 million in seed funding announced last month.
Based on how the SF-LA trips go in the coming weeks, more routes could come to New York-Boston, Boston-Washington, D.C., and NYC-D.C. next.
Meanwhile, Currier is having fun hosting a slumber party on wheels. He said during a trial drive last year, he was up until 3 a.m. in the lounge chatting with a group of passengers. A Harry Potter-themed Night Bus ride is in the works.
For those who truly want their eight hours, each pod comes with socks, a water bottle, ear plugs and Dream Water — a melatonin-infused concoction that claims to facilitate sleep.
Heading down Highway 101, which Currier said is a somewhat smoother, slower ride than the well-worn, speedy I-5 truck route, is “soothing.” He compared it to the effect of a drive around the block to lull a baby to sleep.
Something about being in a moving vehicle seems to calm people down — and the whole laying down in a real bed thing helps, too. Just don’t get up too quick, there’s a hard ceiling just above your head. This is a bus after all.