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