Ads are being blocked

For us to continue writing great stories, we need to display ads.

Un-block Learn more


Please select the extension that is blocking ads.

Ad Block Plus Ghostery uBlock Other Blockers

Please follow the steps below

San Francisco Gets the Ridiculous Luxury Bus It Deserves

The smartphone-enhanced, coffee-slinging, pro-networking Leap Transit could only exist in the Bay.

Close your eyes, listen to this video's soundtrack, and try to imagine what's happening. Are climbers cresting Everest's mighty peak? Is a physically disabled runner overcoming all odds to win the New York Marathon?

Nope. The rousing score is touting an ad for San Francisco's new luxury-bus service, Leap Transit.

After a couple years of testing, the private line opened this week for service between the Marina District and downtown. It's sort of the anti-Muni for the young tech crowd. It looks chic and spacious, but taking a $6 ride means downloading the Leap app, creating an account, uploading a photo (required), entering credit-card information ... and that's as far as I got, because I'm fine taking Muni.

But the video shows what happens next. It starts with scanning a QR code to climb aboard (tattoos also required):

Then you plant your butt on cushy seats next to wall paneling that looks ripped from an old, weathered barn:

You also deal with some kind of greeter, because the Leap process is complex enough to require on-site support:

And there's mind-melding with your laptop (note the entire trip probably takes all of 15 minutes):

Yeah, this Luddite behavior would never happen:

Use your phone to purchase health food like this vegan, organic, gluten-free protein shake. The snacks currently on offer are Blue Bottle Coffee and Happy Moose Juice (perhaps this "Kale Earnhardt" slurry?):

And don't forget to stare off while dreaming about disrupting an industry:

Consult your phone again for the 411 on almond-butter bars:

And lock yourself into a hermetic media-verse. Or who knows—maybe these folks are actually interacting with each other, via Leap's ability to peruse the profiles of other riders:

Forget about arriving at a destination—fade into a dream vision of halcyon brand perfection:

About the Author

  • John Metcalfe
    John Metcalfe is CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, based in Oakland. His coverage focuses on climate change and the science of cities.