In April 2016, San Francisco-based startup SleepBus converted a big rig into a rolling commuter slumber party with installed beds. The company charged passengers $48 one-way for an overnight trip to Los Angeles, offering weary travelers the opportunity to sleep away the miles.
They ran very few buses—all of their reviews are from 4/20 weekend in 2016—which they then parlayed into a media blitz. Apparently enough people went for the idea as the company recently announced it had raised $3.3 million. They also claimed that the wait list for last year’s pilot program ran roughly 20,000 names deep.
Changing the name from “SleepBus” to “Cabin,” the service by Tom Currier (previously the founder of failed co-living start-up Campus) says it will launch full-time on July 14.
Even though “sleep” is no longer part of the company name, the company’s FAQ still plays up the narcoleptic charms of the journey, advising passengers: “Bring (or arrive in) cozy clothes. In order to get a good night’s sleep, we recommend you wear comfortable clothes. Luxury bedding will be provided.”
It works like this: Cabin stacks two dozen “sleep pods” onto each bus, bunk-bed style. Trips roll out at 11 p.m. and arrive at seven o’clock the next morning. There’s Wi-Fi and an onboard lounge for the benefit of insomniacs or anyone who finds themselves too taken by the novelty of the trip to actually sleep.
In comments to Mashable, Currier says the company wants to coin the phrase “moving hotel” because “buses have such a negative brand perception,” hence dropping the word from the company’s name.
Is there a catch? Well, the old $48 fee was already set to go up to $65 last year. Now it’s nearly doubled since 2016, up to $115 for a one-way ticket, which is cheaper than most airfare but still leaves less expensive options out there for those willing to sacrifice comfort for economy.