Carbon footprint is not the issue here, comfort and convenience is. Apparently.
Good luck to them, but I can’t see that their current fares are sustainable in the long term, unless the bus packs a lot more people than it appears in the picture.
I give this startup two months before they figure out that their real business model is picking up people in downtown SF at night, driving to a Walmart parking lot in Oakland and staying there overnight, then driving people back to SF in the morning. One truck, multiple mobile pod “hotels” with departures at 8, 9, 10, and 11pm, and return trips at 7, 8, 9, and 10am.
You’re welcome, Tom. Send royalty checks to my home in BK, please.
Doesn’t seem likely than it would be worse than flying.
Your average diesel bus gets 6mpg. These busses have 20 berths, so your average passenger efficiency is 120mpg per passenger for a full load. The inaugural trip included only 11 passengers, so that’s a mere 66 mpg. If everyone did this instead of flying or driving single- or double-occupancy vehicles, carbon footprint would plummet.
The steerage class tickets help add revenue with little added expense (other than slightly higher wind resistance)
I wonder if those bunks are equipped with seatbelts?
That same link lists air travel as having a lower BTU/(passenger*mile) ratio than busses. Maybe there is something else going on here, but it makes me doubt that this would be a big carbon savings over air.
From the article, it says that current buses have 20 beds. Plans for the future include double-decker buses with ~30 beds.
Also from the article:
For buses that fill, he estimates revenue of about $1,500 per each load, over a cost of about $780 per run.
That $1,500 for a “full” bus, if it’s 20 beds, is $75 per person. Maybe that’s using a mix of the $48/person intro price and $100-200 non-intro price? I don’t know anything about those cost projections. Assuming they’re correct, one could break even with a half-filled bus.
Worse case for them: No one sleeps well, everyone wakes up feeling tired, dirty, disheveled, etc. Suddenly, they’re disoriented on a curb in a different city with baggage, immediately put into the situation of finding transportation to their final destination, preferably with a pit stop where they can change clothes, brush teeth, possibly shower, etc. It sounds like it has the potential to be a pretty crap morning. If it is, people may not want to repeat the experience.
And what happens to business if there’s an accident? if bed bugs pop up in cots? etc.
But the main point is, yeah, not so much a disruption, but moving back to a business model closer to what we saw 100 years ago with sleeper trains.
I’m thinking the big money is in diversification. Imagine: a bus that’s also a restaurant. A “bustro” if you will.
It has to be buses, because we don’t have the right rail system for it, but this reminds me of The Night Scotsman, which used to be only one extra pound over the normal fare: the same run between London and Edinburgh, but instead of a 4-hour run during the day, it was an overnight train that stopped at EVERY.SINGLE.STATION because it was carrying the mail/post. You could get on at King’s Cross station any time after 9:30pm (I think) and the train would leave just before 10:30pm. It would arrive in Edinburgh some time between 6:00-6:30am (again, this is from memory) but you could stay on until 7:30am if you wanted. The sleeper rooms were tiny, with just a wash basin in the room and the bathroom down the hall, but what else did you need?
I have a business model that disrupts disruption…it’s an order of magnitude better.
That link is referring to urban transit buses – they run empty at night and make lots of stops and starts. Long-distance bus travel (aka ‘motorcoach’) is a whole different ballgame. Greyhound buses are the unsung hero of the efficiency world, generally more efficient even than passenger rail.
Tangent: Per-mile, air travel is pretty efficient! Airlines really care about fuel costs and tend to keep their planes as full as possible. As I understand it, the problem with air travel is a) it’s super fast so you can travel way more miles than you would ever think to drive, and b) radiative forcing.
 http://www.buses.org/aba-foundation/research-summary/environment <- sorry that this link makes me look like an industry shill; I have a specific non-industry comparison document in my mind but that page seems to be offline.
I’ve met Tom and wish him luck and could see myself using this service. The only thing better would be a night train SF-LA.
If it doesn’t thrive, at least there would be less impact upon failure of this venture than his last one, Campus #coliving:
ETA: Apparently the article I cited doesn’t tell the whole story. I was trying to make a point about the risks of “disrupting” systems meeting core human needs like shelter, with newer, innovative systems potentially not being as secure. Tom just dropped me a line to let me know that in 28 of Campus’s 34 houses, existing tenants took over the lease, and they found housing for the rest. So, in a certain sense, they made themselves unnecessary - by initiating the concept, it was easier for others to continue in more traditional form, minus the regional/national network and (nonexistent? insufficient?) profit margin.
The whole carbon-footprint issue is a symptom of conventional thinking. Nuclear power is the way to go.
EXACTLY! I was thinking the same same.
If it involves just putting everything back again, that could work.
I suffered one of these from London to Glasgow a few months ago. You think the gentle motion and hum of a long lonely motorway run is going let you sleep like a baby. But no. There’s roadworks, pit stops, diversions, potholes, squeaks, rattles and clunks. Not to mention snoring, farting, coughing. The bed on the bus I took was narrow and hard, the pillow meager and dubious. And, right, then you get where you are going completely disheveled. Like a person who slept on a bus.
On the plus side, it was cheaper than a plane. It also avoids the hassle of getting to an airport from London, which is a 2-hour proposition, since you can never be certain there’s good train or bus service, so you have to leave a buffer, and then you’re sitting around the ridiculously crowded airport that makes you walk through perfume departments.
Another comparison is a lie-flat seat in business class, like on a comparable length trans-Atlantic flight. The difference there is the excellently soporific audible environment on a plane. Zzzzz. Decent food served, cold drinks, enough bathrooms that aren’t bouncing around, room for a stroll, and movies. The bed is even a little better.
I think there is likely to be a core group of people – young, not rich – who would find this just right. If they had decent showers at the other end, that would really help. And a fridge. And plotting a route to avoid bumps, stops, etc., that wake you up.
I got a sleeper bus from Nazca to Arequipa while backpacking around Peru.
Really comfortable seats, almost fold flat. Worst night ever. No sleep at all. The worst bit was the drinks bottles that people had dropped and just rolled around the floor all fucking night. Every bend in the road, roll, roll, roll, rattle, rattle, rattle.