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Why an eight-hour bus ride from Los Angeles to San Francisco might beat a flight (economist.com)
126 points by edward 7 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 112 comments

> the current route is a perfect example of that awkward travel distance to which there is no good solution. Others abound, such as Washington-Boston or London-Edinburgh

There is a very good sleeper train, the Caledonian Sleeper, between London and Edinburgh (and several other points in Scotland). That's a "good solution" for that route, and I'm more than a little surprised that the London-based Economist seems not to have heard of it.


Such buses are quite common in India too. Many people prefer sleeper buses even though the prices are similar to flights. One reason is that they have to travel to the airport (city a) and then travel from the airport (city b).

A couple of interesting links:



I loved those in India when I travelled around. We would often save the cost for a hotel and just sleep in the bus.

I'm wondering why airports don't try to monopolize airport taxi business. It's the logical extension of traveling from point A to B end-to-end.

What makes you think they haven't?

In the DC area, there is a single provider of taxi service from Dulles Airport (IAD).


Any other taxi service trying to pick up fares from IAD are violating the contract between the Metro Washington Airport Authority and Dulles Taxi.

> Any other taxi service trying to pick up fares from IAD are violating the contract between the Metro Washington Airport Authority and Dulles Taxi.

Why would I care if I've violated a contract between two other parties?

Dulles airport police will not let other taxis pick up passengers at Dulles.


REMEMBER: A taxi medallion is a component of a government-enforced monopoly on regional transportation for hire.

One of the great achievements of Uber is highlighting the gap between what's possible when a company is able to compete freely in the marketplace that's been effectively ruined by government.

Before Uber, the taxi companies had ZERO incentive to improve their product. You had no choice when choosing a cab company. Now you do.

The Caledonian Sleeper is quite good, and has a great restaurant car, but it's generally considerably more expensive than flying unless you book very far in advance, and they do some shunting of carriages at one of the stops during the night that generally interrupts your sleep. It's still a good choice between those two cities, especially if you can replace a hotel night with the train, or can book very far in advance.

More to the point, the standard train service between Edinburgh and London is less than 4:30, and around £50 each way booking a few weeks in advance. I do this fairly frequently, and generally it takes the same amount of time as flying, while being a fair bit more convenient. Rail is pretty good :)

> around £50 each way booking a few weeks in advance

Man, how many of those £50 tickets are actually available? A train from Manchester to London, which is less than half the distance, costs twice as much on a lucky day (and 3x on the same day, if not more).

I just ran this search for MAN -> EUS on 2017/08/23 leaving after 10:00.


I got this result:

    Dep 11:15 Manchester Piccadilly [MAN] Platform 7
    Arr 13:20 London Euston [EUS] Platform 3
    Duration:  2h 05m
    Changes :  0

    cheapest fare
    Single Fare
Services at 10:15, 10:35, and 10:55 are £38.00.

Yes, tickets for travel on Monday are over £80, but the poster was talking about buying advance tickets.

What service are you using? How far in advance are you looking? Buying on the day can and will be stupidly expensive.

Oh, and FWIW, split tickets can frequently do better. I've reduced my annual train fares bills from over 11k to under 6k, despite travelling 20% more.

Edit: Just ran a split-ticket search for Monday 14th and got this:

    MAN CRE 10:04 11:01  £4.80 Advance
    CRE EUS 11:02 13:50 £29.00 Off-Peak

> I've reduced my annual train fares bills from over 11k to under 6k

That is nice for you, but neither of these numbers is something that National Rail can pride itself on. In Germany for instance, a "Bahncard 100" that lets you travel everywhere anytime without pre-booking costs about £3.5k - and in addition, you save the dozens or hundreds of hours spent "hacking" the fares to get screwed ever so slightly less...

I'm not defending the UK fare system - it's appalling - and I'm not saying the fares are reasonable - they're not. I'm just replying to the person who sounded astonished about the existence of a £50 fare each way to EDB, claiming that MAN-EUS was significantly more.

It's not (or doesn't have to be) and I provided evidence. So you're replying to the wrong indignation.

Neither of those options are realistic for anybody who actually, y'know, works. The overhwelming majority of passengers will get much, much higher fares.

E.g. 7am MAN-EUS on 23/08: £112

And having to mess around with split fares like I had to reach Singapore, is appalling (is that even the same train? Do I really have to change train to get from the 2nd largest city to the capital? Is this Peru...?).

It sounds to me like you simply want to be outraged about the fares. And that's fine, the fares are, quite honestly, appalling. All I'm doing is pointing out that if you really are so angry then perhaps it's worth spending a little time, taking slightly less convenient journey, and cutting your expenditure in half. Or better:

    MAN CRE 06:00 06:37 £13.60 Anytime
    CRE EUS 06:52 09:37 £22.00 Advance
    Total: £35.60
For reference, I do, you know, work, and I've worked out how to work on the train and take advantage of fare combinations like this.

If you choose not to, and choose to just take the existing fares and services and pay the premium then that's your choice. By all means, feel free to do so and to be angry about the system.

And being angry about the system (or systems, to include things like the trains in Singapore) is quite reasonable. But it doesn't achieve much. Personally, I turn to the machine and create tools to shift the cost/convenience balance to be more in my favour.

I thought it was average at best. I've taken long-distance sleeper trains all my life, but the Caledonian Sleeper has rubbish breakfast, poor bedding, and you have to exit the train right after it arrives.

I mean, one of these three is fine, but all three and it was worthless for its objective. It costs a hundred quid and this is what you get? I could take Virgin for half the price and be there in 5 hours and actually sleep in my own bed instead. It's what I'll do next time.

I suppose the one plus is you get to use the lounge at the station, which is about the one place that Waverly Station has plug points for a charger.

Oh what nonsense. I travel on Caledonian Sleeper all the time and while the breakfast is perhaps not amazing (although its fine) you only have to exit the train immediately at stops that are not the ultimate destinations (like London, Glasgow etc) there you routinely have up to an hour to get off. The bedding criticism is also odd as it's all white cotton sheets and pretty comfortable. Also Caledonian Sleeper has ordered new coaches and are investing a lot in the service. See: https://www.sleeper.scot/news/85-newtrains The sleeper service is an amazing service and I love the ability to spend £100 and get a room saving a packet on a London hotel. I can arrive in London at 6.30/7.00am head to meetings & then be back in Scotland in 4 hours.

Add to which, I've successfully left my East-Edinburgh house at 0630, taken the 0735 flight to LCY and made it to the office for the 0945 stand-up. Although I'd probably leave at 0615 since the new security area was set up -- I don't do it often and the last time I cut it a bit tight.

If you need to get to central London and don't fly to City Airport if it's an option, I'd suggest your routing may be sub-optimal. EDI--LCY is definitely workable as a day trip.

50 years ago in Japan they invented fast trains to cover such distances. We didn’t adopt them in California because Americans prefer cars.

Fast forward 40 years and it’s not so easy to get the right of way to build straight track. Now 10 years in we’re hoping to invent an even faster method of transportation so we can take a longer route.

Not to get into this again, but California also only has 1/3 of Japan's population density, there's very little between the obvious Bay Area and LA endpoints, and there's no viable route up the coast so you have to go inland, which means putting rail through quite a lot of mountains. There's also no realistic world where you get from SF to LA on rail in close to the time it takes to fly (SF to Burbank is only an hour).

HSR works best when the population centers are separated by low population areas because you don't want to stop every 20 miles. So yes California is 163,696 mi² but ignore the paces with < 50 people per square mile and what's left has both plenty of density and population. Because it's really the eastern part of the state that's empty.


EX: Modoc County only has freaking 8k people and it's 4,000 square miles.

I was merely pointing out that this technology was invented in Japan. Since then it has also been installed and about 20 other countries, including France and Spain. The population excuse was debunked years ago.

Also, no one said that it had to had to take an hour. If you go from downtown LA to downtown San Francisco, it’s a pretty nice accomplishment in 3 hours.

HSR was first demonstrated in France. Japan is the country with the first commercial service.

The author has probably heard of it, but deemed the solution as not being good enough by their criteria to be worth mention.

Or rather, it would diminish the value of the article as an ad by mentioning another service.

"The drivers intentionally go slowly and take back roads so that the trip, normally six hours, lasts eight."

Why not just get there 2 hours early, park, and sit for 2 hours. This would (1) reduce vehicle motion, so you can sleep better, and (2) allow people who aren't asleep anyway to get out early if they want. It may also save gas, although once buses are electric, this becomes less of a factor.

I've taken quite a few overnight buses during a 6 month trip through South America. Even when paying for the luxury option (which is literally $10-$15 more, totally worth it) and having fully reclining comfortable seats, it all comes down to one thing, the drivers.

If the drivers are maximizing for time you're not going to sleep very well because they are driving like a maniac. Sudden halts, near misses, and sharp corners make for a particularly terrifying experience when you're attempting to sleep.

The fact that this endeavor is focusing on drivers that go slow is 100% a positive for me and I would now consider trying it.

This is an issue that really just exists with overnight buses, as trains don't make sudden stops and they are not competing with other trains for a lane.

Buses like this should be fitted with accelerometers, and drivers be rewarded for good driving. Actually the same applies to ordinary buses, a careful driver makes the journey much more comfortable.

While I agree with the sentiment, it does nothing to account for all the other drivers on the road. I don't really see how this is fair to the bus driver.

That's true, but a lot can be avoided with conservative driving. Anticipating what other drivers might do is major part of the skill. Also, stopping suddenly can be a serious health risk if you're expecting the elderly to use the buses.

But I do take the point, I'm not a big fan of the overbearing tracking that you read about, for instance, in the Amazon warehouses. Especially when you're asking for skilled performance but paying unskilled wages.

Perhaps it could just be asking a percentage of drivers to take extra training, but I do think it should happen to some degree.

In Mexico at least, if the driver goes over the speed limit a semi-loud buzzer goes off. Which really encourages them to slow down under the limit.

Same in Chile. The speed limit is 120km but the buzzer on the bus sounds at 100km.

Do we really want to measure drivers by smoothness only, ignoring other factors like safety?

When a difficult situation on the road arises, the drivers may be less likely to hit breaks, knowing they are being constantly watched.

A better option would be to allow passengers to rate the drivers easily, Uber style. Such system would count in more factors, and (I guess) would be less likely to optimise for just one factor.

I don't know about everyone else, but if I'm sleeping in a moving vehicle and it comes to a stop, I'll typically wake up.

Driving slower might quite possibly save on fuel, even if it takes longer. Parking a bus that long where it is convenient for the early risers to get off isn't necessarily easy either.

Plus, as others mention, you'd wake everyone else up.

Agreed. When you get into the part of the efficiency scale where aero dominates, it becomes an exponential cost increase for speed. 60mph and 68mph are night and day in a school bus.

Not to mention, those early risers exiting while everyone else is asleep would wake the rest of the bus.

> allow people who aren't asleep anyway to get out early if they want.

And in so doing wake everyone up.

Presumably because most people who fall asleep on any vehicle in motion will wake up as soon as it stops.

I'm guessing that the shortest routes from LA<–>SF will have more traffic so there's more stop-and-go which diminishes restful sleeping.

This is like the night train I used to take from Oslo to Trondheim. It's about 660 km and takes less than an hour by air. But I live a taxi and train ride from the airport and my final destination is a two hour drive north of Trondheim.

To get there before lunch I would have to get up before five in the morning and I would arrive tired or I could leave home at 21:00 the night before catch the night train at 23:30 and arrive in Trondheim at 07:00 catch the train to Steinkjer and be there by 10:30 refreshed after a good night's sleep and a civilized breakfast.

Not to mention the trains are incredibly smooth. Took the train from Trondheim to Bodø, woke up a few hours in and didn’t know we were moving until I took a snapchat of my face in the dark train and saw a speed of over 200km/h.

One of the missing points: convenience. Taking a bus "feels" like less of a hassle. Nobody likes having to deal with authorities (check-in people, the TSA). Taking a bus means you have more control over the terms of your trip.

While raw time-to-destination is important, people are also looking for emotional expenditure savings too.

This is an advertisement, and it's been re-posted in a few different forms now.

I make this commute pretty often (albeit to Orange County, not LA) and I've been following these guys for awhile.

I was under the impression their price would be a lot less than a flight. Their price roundtrip is $230. A roundtrip flight from SF to LA usually runs $160-$350 depending on how far in advance you book it. Taking the $350 ceiling - is a $120 savings enough to justify a ~6 hour difference?

It's still a great idea - but price it cheaper like < 100 RT.

It also potentially eliminates the need for 1-2 nights of hotel rooms. Depending on your travel situation, that might be more convenient.

Except in this case we're talking about SF/LA, which is only an hour-long flight.

I do this flight every other month or so and it's a breeze. You leave work a bit early on Friday, get to the airport in about an hour, board the plane, they serve you a drink, and the captain tells you to fasten your seatbelt because we're descending.

It's 1 hour to the airport, 45 minutes through security, 1 hour in the air, and another 45 min to my friend's house. So 3.5 hours, but round it up to 4 hours door to door. Sure, summer months have weather delays like low ceilings at SFO, but otherwise it's one of the smoother journeys one can have.

I guess if you party in SF on Friday, and sleep and sober up on a midnight bus, and go HAM all weekend in LA, then recharge on the return leg for Monday. However, I'm too old for that and would much rather sleep in a proper bed.

Imagine that you aren't staying at a friend's house, but rather at a hotel or AirBnB. Avoiding paying for one extra night instantly saves you money. And if you don't expect to do much the night you arrive anyway, there's no real cost (plus you don't have to leave work early, which may be advantageous).

I think in that case, I'd rather take an early morning flight like sologoub mentioned.

And like dopeboy pointed out, if this was $100 RT, it would appeal to price sensitive people. And regardless of how comfortable they make it, for many of us in the States, it's still an 8-hour bus ride.

An SF flight that gets you to LA by 9am realistically requires you to leave the house around 6am: wheels down at 8:30am, wheels up at 7:30am, boarding at 7am (if you want space for yr hand luggage), arrive at the airport by 6:30am, leave the house at 6am. And those are fairly aggressive timings IMO.

I want to try this service, because if the sleep is really bad then I agree that it's no use. But if it's even close to comparable to taking a sleeper train, I'd much prefer it: I've always slept well on those, and I'd much sooner not have the 5am start.

Few days late, sorry. Just wanted to say those are all good points. If it's comparable to a sleeper train, like you mentioned, I agree that it could be a feasible option.

The main advantage seems to be no travel the morning of and no need for a hotel for previous night.

However, I usually do 6-7am flights and get there before 9am, 10am to office after BART from SFO. Flights back go as late as 9pm.

In the end, southwest will set you back less than $120 if you book in advance.

I also much prefer my own bed, as opposed to hotels or buses, but that's a personal preference.

Plus time to get between airport and downtown and to go through security at the airport, which has to be at least two hours. So $120 for four hours? Well worth it to many people.

They used to be much cheaper, but then they rebranded as a "luxury service."

I’ve taken Megabus from LA to SF (for like $20) and it’s one of the most beautiful routes I’ve ever been on, especially from the observation seats on the second floor. Just miles and miles of rolling, golden hills.

Sleeping through it seems like a waste.

The 5 is horribly boring once you've done it a couple of times. It also smells very badly (like cow blood + poop) for a long stretch. Hot, dry, high winds, farms on both sides, just 2 lanes, cops around, many semis...

Door to door, driving is the same as the airport, but having a car in LA is nice given the lack of public transit (Bay Area too).

I usually opt for 101 if I can afford the slight extra driving time. I find it much more pleasant in terms of both scenery (maybe that is the Megabus route? "Rolling hills" sounds about right) and normal traffic conditions (significantly less truck traffic).

I do the same with 99. Much of it has three lanes now so less issues being stuck and mad passing by others. Ass in the chance for more stops along the way. My cutoff is LA area, I'll drive there, but fly to San Diego.

My wife and I got a room on the California Zephyr train from SF to Chicago one year and we loved it. So much less hassle than flying. Better food and scenery too.

I don't think I'd have the patience to go all the way from San Francisco to Chicago. But I've definitely had my sights on doing the San Francisco to Denver leg (or vice versa) at some point if the travel stars even lined up in a way that made sense. I've also thought about the Empire Builder route as part of a trip to Glacier.

That leg is definitely the most scenic part (although going through Burlington, IA is also surprisingly neat).

In Germany, we have had a quite extensive network of night trains with proper beds (and the more expensive tickets also have a shower in the carriage); unfortunately the network got massively thinned out in the last years and only the profitable core routes are in service now by Austrian ÖBB.

Shouldn't something like this be possible in America, especially between far-away cities? Could at least be more profitable because you don't need to shunt around carriages every couple hours and if it gets kept between hubs there's no need for inter-route stops either.

Amtrak offers this with "roomettes" all the way up to 4-person rooms, though whether it's an overnight or a day trip depends on your origin and destination (for example, Chicago to Dallas is an overnight). You mention that Germany had eliminated all but the profitable ones--well, the U.S. government loses money on these routes to keep them running even in spite of the high prices. I'd usually pay $800 roundtrip for CHI->DAL; meals _are_ included and you get I believe up to two carry-ons and two checked bags for free.

I will say it is definitely a lower stress option. You can show up 30 minutes before your train is leaving and there's no security lines. Depending on the station, it could be just an empty train station in a rural town or a large station interconnected with other transport services (e.g. Boston, Chicago).

The population you are traveling with is much different compared not only to airlines but also coach on the train. Generally your sleeper carmates are retired folks who don't want to deal with the hassle of TSA, running between connections, arriving three hours early, and so on. I've met some extremely nice people with amazing stories (you are seated with strangers at meals, so this is almost forced on you). If you are not in a hurry and have a few extra bucks, it's worth it at least once to experience the journey, especially across the Upper Midwest or coasts.

The problem with Amtrak is that it takes so long. My wife and her family went to Orlando from Chicago last December and flying was way too expensive for all 4 of them. They ended up driving, after not wanting to, but I looked into Amtrak for them. It would've taken 36 hours to get from Chicago to Orlando with 2 major stretches. The second stretch was 19 hours and had NO food car. I assume you can buy stuff at the station to bring on the train with you but going for 19 hours with absolutely no real food is just crazy. On top of that, it cost much more than airfare for the whole family.

I actually looked at Amtrak from San Fransisco to LA to see how it compares to Cabin. I'm not sure which pickup location is most common in SF or LA but I assumed the major (or what seemed to be) rail station for the start. You can get a bus for about $115 (max) that is just under a 6 hour ride. Or you can take a bus up to Oakland and then take the train down to LA. That cost ~$240 but includes a room on the train. The downside to that is it is a 12 hour train ride, so close to 13 hours to get from SF to LA.

If the US would invest in high speed rail I, personally, would be much more inclined to take passenger rail (especially when I have kids) but until then I'm stuck with shitty TSA lines and the stress of flying.

In San Francisco, there is no Amtrak station in the city proper. It's on the other side of the bay. I believe there's a connecting Amtrak-operated bus from the Ferry Building to Emeryville.

Sure, but this <1 hour bus ride is well within the margin of error on your 30+ hour train ride. It shouldn't make a meaningful difference.

> I'd usually pay $800 roundtrip for CHI->DAL;

By car (and Google Maps measuring) that's about 3.000km total. Hamburg-Munich is about 1.500km total, so half the distance. But ÖBB Nightjet tickets start for ~160€ to 250€ roundtrip, about half the price and Amtrak is losing money?

How is that even possible?

> ...about half the price and Amtrak is losing money?


> How is that even possible?

Amtrak runs routes across a very large area, they run more infrequently than European schedules, and their capital equipment is aging. Combine these with the factors the Economist article brought up that user totalZero wrote about, and you end up with a very messy, expensive, customer-inconvenient situation.

The American freight rail system is the envy of the world, but it comes at the cost of the passenger rail system, which doesn't access to nearly the same scale of subsidies that road and air transport networks enjoy in the US.

If you are traveling by yourself, can book well in advance, don't require access to a shower facility, have lots of flexibility with your timetable, and have your own means of an Internet connection, then Amtrak is a great, low-stress, inexpensive, energy-efficient travel option for this inter-city range to longer ranges.

Among some use cases where Amtrak doesn't fit as well are:

* If you worry about securing valuables while sleeping (cable lock alarms work as long as you fit the valuables into overhead space, of which there is always plenty, but if you have more than that to worry about, then ship ahead if you can).

* If you have a restrictive diet that Amtrak doesn't cater to (bring your own works well, freeze ahead of time and that will get you through a continuous 3-day itinerary).

* Traveling with children (the rooms with beds are more expensive than equivalent airfare for everyone in many cases).

* Must have continuous cell-based Internet access (big swathes of land in Western US have simply zero cell signal coverage, and a speeding steel tube isn't the best platform to pick up signals even in the best cell coverage areas, an observation car if you have one is the best, I'm trying a satellite phone next time I ride Amtrak into the Western US).

You don't have to maintain the air you fly through, but you must maintain the track you travel by. Unless there is a lot of freight traffic, the maintenance will be more expensive than your income from tickets.

Europe is just much denser than US Midwest, so both passenger and freight traffic is more intense for a unit of track length, thus more economical.

Just FYI ÖBB Nightjet is a train and not a plane. I looked it up to see comparisons but I had the same assumption as you based on the name.

Also, Amtrak doesn't maintain the track that is up to the track owner to do the maintenance. Amtrak does pay money to each track owner to use their tracks but it isn't an access fee and it is incremental.

There is more to it than just a single rail line. Who owns the rail that ÖBB Nightjet uses? Amtrak has to make payments to the owners of the rail that they ride on. They are incremental payments and not access fees but that is still a cost. Second, Amtrak has many more employees (including their own police force), which will add cost. Third, Amtrak also owns at least 2 train stations (Union Station in Chicago and Penn Station in NYC) which will add to their liabilities. Finally, the routes in the US are much longer (typically) than what would be in Europe. That means less riders in a given timeframe which would mean an increase in ticket prices.

OeBB needs to pay to the individual companies that own the track. In Austria that is OeBB Infra which is an independent company. In Germany to dB Netz etc.

Yep, and neither ÖBB Infra nor DB Netz are known for cheap rates... actually, at least for DB Netz, you can do the calculations on your own computer using the ratio calculator (http://fahrweg.dbnetze.com/fahrweg-de/kunden/leistungen/tras...).

Hamburg-Munich alone the track fees end up with 5k €, plus electricity usage, usage of shunting vehicles, usage of train stations, trash/sewage disposal... it adds up.

Here's their budget plan from a few years ago: https://www.amtrak.com/ccurl/458/748/FY14-Budget-Business-Pl...

Probably because the trains never fill up.

They're losing money because that's a ridiculously expensive price and people looking to just get from point A to B would not pay that.

So they should cut their prices and lose even more money? The basic problem is that outside of the Northeast Corridor--which is very popular, profitable, and getting new infrastructure investment--there are very few city pairs in the US that have the right combination of density and distance. Effectively the Northeast Corridor makes all the money that Amtrak then loses in the rest of the country.

This is a few years old but summarizes Amtrak profit (or lack thereof) by route: http://reasonrail.blogspot.com/2014/11/amtrak-routes-by-2014...

Sometimes something is just obsolete. Their uncompetitive price reflects that.

Yes. But, it's not politically tenable to simply shut down rail service in the US outside of the Northeast Corridor. (Nor is it obvious that would be a good decision at a national level for many reasons.)

Amtrak does run a number of night trains, mostly on the routes where the trip is too long to plausibly do it as a day train, though. For example the NYC-Chicago night train (Lake Shore Limited) departs NYC at 15:40 and arrives in Chicago at 09:45 the next day (19 hours). And Chicago-SF is a 2-night trip (51 hours).

You can also do Boston to DC as an overnight but I don't think they have any sleeper cars on that route. (Even with Acela, few people do that full route.)

FWIW OeBB is investing into new night trains for routes between Austria and Italy. If they get popular they want to expand that.


I generally really like nighttrains but there are not enough routes i need to take.



These guys tried to answer that question. Still, it seems to me that even they didn't touch on any good answers.


The USA is really big. I took the train from Chicago to San Francisco. I loved it, but it took the best part of three days.

Flying is always going to be more compelling for functional travel like this.

I took a few of the night trains in Europe this year, Krakow - Prague and Prague - Zurich (both CD, Czech, I think) were great, Verona - Paris kinda sucked though (Thello, private)

I'd be too worried about a tired driver causing an accident while I'm in a "sleeping pod" with no seatbelts, and potentially ramming head first into a wall.

Honestly, I would consider this with a self-driving bus when the time comes. For now, I know human nature too well to assume that all drivers had a nice rest and can easily stay up 3rd shift fully alert.

They could have done this as reclining seat overnight buses like they already have in the rest of the world.

Also, buses have a large mass so collisions aren't that bad. That's why school buses don't need seat belts.

That's only true if you hit smaller vehicles. Hitting other busses, trucks, traffic structures, trees, or rolling over, is going to be just as bad.

This seems a little odd.

I fall asleep in vehicles as a passenger sometimes, but have that peace of mind of being in a safety belt and with some air bags around me.

On a plane, an accident is unlikely to occur... same with a train.

I don't think I'd want to fully trust my life to a bus driver (and all of the third parties out on the road that could trigger an incident on the road) without some means to mitigate that risk.

But nothing on their site or literature seems to provide information on personal safety were an incident to occur.

It seems bizarre to me that people would get into a vehicle for a long overnight drive, and not demand a minimum degree of safety.

For a bus, maybe this would be something like airline style seats that fully recline and offer comfortable belts and a single airbag.

This is all probably good for the US, but would be a non-starter in Europe.

You know there are overnight busses in Europe, right? With barely a seat belt.

Must be older vehicles.

Seat belt installation has been mandatory for a number of years via EU legislation (though each country had their own timetable I believe all do now require new vehicles to be fitted with seat belts).

Seat belt use is mandatory on coaches (all passenger carrying vehicles), and no exception would allow for permanently lying down... the only coach exception is if temporarily out of seat.

Air bags are not mandatory other than in the cabin.

Required fitting directive (member states applied it in 2006): http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=LEGISSUM:...

Mandatory use: https://ec.europa.eu/transport/road_safety/topics/vehicles/s...

Still against the law. So is lying in beds in a bus. This keeps coming up sometimes with tour busses.

What's the actual fatality rate in buses per million miles travelled? It might be not quite as good as planes and trains, but I'm pretty sure it's far better than cars.

The article says $230, but https://www.ridecabin.com/ says $115. Am I missing something? This makes quite a difference.


Yeah. When I looked initially, I didn't go far enough into checkout.

Their site's fare calendar is a dark pattern. Normally when searching for round trip fares on, say, Google Flights, selecting the departure date from the calendar shows the (lowest) round trip fare departing that date. When you then select the return date, the (lowest) round trip fare departing on your departure date and returning on your return date is shown.

Cabin's site shows you the one-way price both times even when booking a round-trip. It's not until you click through that you see it's $115 each way.

If the problem with air travel on that distance isn't the flight itself but the futzing around getting to and from the airport at each end, maybe that is the problem that needs solving.

Well, part of it is security. Which, whatever the specific faults of TSA, isn't about to go away for air travel. Fortunately, in the US, trains are still largely exempt.

The other issue is that airports tend to be just big and sprawling locations well outside of city cores. So you have to build in lots of buffer for things like parking. Or, if they're near cities, parking's expensive and often scarce.

Finally (which COULD be dealt with to some degree) load factors and cancellation policies are such that you really don't want to miss most flights in a way that isn't typically as big a problem with trains.

This article mentions the theoretical "hyperloop" but not normal, actually-existent high speed rail as a solution for trips of this distance?

Ok I'm confused. Yes the journey is normally 6 hours, but the bus takes an 8 hour longer route. I've tried sleeper buses and one of the problems can be the odd pothole nudging you awake.

I'd be happier for a bus to take the more direct route and then let me disembark as I choose when I wake up or park up somewhere quiet for a couple of hours.

Why has this story been pushed so hard? I've seen it in local stories all the way to WaPost

What about safety if the bus crashes?

It would be appropriate to compare this service to the under-construction California High-Speed Rail. A more real comparison than the hyperloop.

California High-Speed Rail is better known as Obsolete, Slow-Speed Rail, Pork-Barrel-Wealth Transfer Edition. Even Homer Simpson could build a safer, cheaper and more usable transport line than the unfortunate, wasteful abomination that is CHSR.

It would be a great business between Sydney and Melbourne or Sydney and Brisbane. When I was on secondment from London in Sydney I would often drive to Melbourne. By the time I added up arising early, 45 minute taco ride to airport, check in, clearing security, having brekkie then the flight, and massive taxi queue plus 45 min ride into Melbourne it was less than 1hr difference. I was comfortable, could stop and eat, see countryside on roads with little traffic it was a joy!

There's something similar in Russia with trains. Minsk, Moscow and St Petersburg form a triangle with about 8 hours of train time between each. A colleague based in Minsk used to do week long trips with with only a night or two in a hotel. I seem to recall that there were many trains to Moscow from St Petersburg leaving between 11:00 PM and 1:00 AM.

There is going to be a lot of sex in those pods. I'm not sure I want to be next in one after.

The Same is true of hotel beds and that's generally not a problem.

It's kind of a problem, we just ignore it. I like staying at hotels but if I try not to think too much about the state of the comforter.

Maybe sell that as a feature?

"All aboard the All-Night Express! It's not exactly sleeper service, you know? <wink>"

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