In many cities, a luxurious ride in a municipal bus during rush hour would just mean finding a seat. Being pampered isn't really the point of public transportation; instead, buses and the like ideally provide the chance for patrons to commute cheaply and efficiently. Several startups in San Francisco are challenging these common beliefs about mass transit by offering a high-end alternative. According to The Verge, they might also be hurting the city in the process.

In a recent piece, The Verge takes a ride on a new, luxury transport startup in San Francisco called Leap. The company's five buses are overhauled inside (pictured above) with amenities like a bar along one side, comfy seats, USB ports and Wi-Fi. There's even a waiter onboard to deliver snacks that are ordered from a smartphone app. A one-way ride costs $6, versus $2.25 with public transit, and the business currently runs a single, 25-minute route through the city during the morning and evening rush hours. For a further look, Leap's promo video is embedded below.

While all of this luxury might sound somewhat cool at first, The Verge uses Leap and its competitors to draw some thought-provoking arguments about their effects on social stratification in San Francisco. By the writer's reasoning, these buses only serve elites in small pockets of the city, and they basically create one service for the rich and another for the poor. Conversely, the startups see themselves as augmenting the existing public transportation system and reducing strain on it. Regardless of which side you agree with, the article is worth reading.

Leap - Your daily commute. Redesigned. from Leap on Vimeo.


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