Traveling by bus is one of the most underrated means of getting to your destination. A new bus line called Cabin aims to boost the lowly bus’s profile, but it comes at a cost.
Cabin is a luxury bus line that transports passengers between Los Angeles and San Francisco. But it’s not like any ordinary bus. Cabin runs overnight routes that leave at 11 p.m. and arrive at 7 a.m., and its passengers ride in sleeper cabins that feature comfy beds and privacy shades. So you can sleep on your way there instead of staring out the window.
Other Cabin amenities include soundproof walls, a personal outlet to charge your electronic devices, reading lamp, free coffee and tea, and a 24-hour attendant. You can check two pieces of luggage in the bus’s storage bay, and there’s a nice bathroom on board. If you have trouble sleeping on a moving bed, they’ve even thought of that too. Cabin provides complementary ear plugs and water laced with melatonin, a natural sleep aid.
At this time, Cabin only services Los Angeles and San Francisco. But the company says it is looking at Portland and Las Vegas.
What’s So Great About the Bus?
Bus travel is one of the simplest and most affordable ways to travel. You just show up at the bus depot a few minutes before departure and get on board. There’s no need to wait in the gate for hours before your trip, and you avoid all the other hassles of the airport, such as security.
If you’re headed to a city such as New York or Las Vegas, taking the bus lets you to avoid getting gouged for parking. Plus, you can read, surf the web or play video games while someone else does the driving.
But the best part: Taking the bus is cheap. A round-trip ticket on the BoltBus from Washington D.C. to New York cost me less than $50.
As the old saying goes, you get what you pay for. The bus isn’t known for its glamorous features. The seats are often uncomfortable. You’ll probably stop for food and snacks at a rest stop along the way. And even promised amenities like wi-fi don’t often work well on the bus.
Cabin Costs Too Much
Cabin has elevated the bus experience, but all those luxury features mean you lose the best thing about the bus: price. A round-trip ticket on Cabin costs about $230. You could fly from Los Angeles to San Francisco on SouthWest for about the same price, even less if you plan far enough in advance and choose early flights.
But Cabin could be a sign of a things to come. Other luxury bus lines, including Limoliner and LuxBus, already offer first-class seating and other amenities, but Cabin is the first to offer private sleeping pods and overnight routes.
The bus industry is ripe for disruption, and if Cabin takes off, it may inspire other bus lines to adopt sleeping pods at multiple price points. Cabin bills itself as “the Ritz Carlton on wheels.” But a “Best Western on wheels” that’s affordable and provides a comfy bus experience could do for buses what Uber did for cabs.