Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Sleeper bus

A low cost alternative to air travel
  [vote for,

I've travelled on night busses a bit, and as it is they're only for the financially challenged, because you can't easily sleep on them. Also, because of the extreme trauma of an overnight bus trip, they're usually only half full. I propose the following change. You would start with a bus with no seats in it. It would need to have good suspension, air conditioning, and curtains on the windows, but no better than you find on any modern long haul road coach. You would lay in anchoring points, similar to those used in aeroplanes to hold the seats. You'd then fit in two kinds of seats. One would be a standard bus seat, which you'd fit a row of in every second row position. Each row would have an aisle in the middle, as normal, and there would be four seats to a row, as usual. The seats might need to be a bit further apart, so the aisle was a little narrower. The second type of seat would be similar to a first class aeroplane seat (although probably narrower) in that it would be capable of folding flat to form a bed. These would be interleaved with the standard seats, so that there would be a row of them in every second row position. While the standard seats were in place, there wouldn't be enough room for the lay-flat seats to fold out all the way, and they would be mechanically 'configured' somehow so that if the user tried to do so they would only recline a short distance. This would be the 'daytime' configuration, and would appear to the users to be a slightly odd looking bus. At night, you'd remove all the standard seats, which would be facilitated by some kind of quick release anchor on the bottom. It would be a somewhat clumsy operation, but not unachievable in half an hour by two strong people, perhaps at the same time as the bus was being serviced, cleaned, and refuelled. The bus would then be in a nighttime configuration, suitable for trips of 7-12 hours which occurred mainly during the night. The bus would have half the passenger capacity for these trips, and would charge an increased fare. Passengers would be able to sit up, or recline the seat to form a bed, at their discretion.

I have seen some other sleeper bus layouts, but they've either had large numbers of fixed bunks (narrow, uncomfortable and no good during the day) or been campervan style things with kitchens and whatnot, which don't have a high passenger capacity. There are sleeper trains, but (at least in Australia) you usually have to purchase an entire cabin at high cost. They're a bit of an old person/tourist thing, not a serious alternative to air travel.

Why is this a good thing? It makes bus travel somewhat competative with air travel. Busses are much cheaper than planes for domestic travel (at least in Australia where I live) and can be booked on much shorter notice. The fares would end up much cheaper than an air ticket, even considering the reduced carrying capacity of the bus. For example, I can easily get a one way bus journey on a modern, air conditioned coach from Melbourne to Sydney for about $45 at short notice - ie less than a day. This seems to be true even during holiday periods. This is a twelve hour trip. Double that price for the half-capacity bus and you've got $90. This is maybe 20% below the price of a super-discounted one way air ticket, which you'd need to book many months in advance to get, and would only be available at low-demand times. A short notice or peak season ticket can be as much as $250 one way. You can carry much more luggage on a bus, and there isn't nearly as much fuss to get on one (no airports). If you really could sleep on an overnight bus journey and wake up at or close to the destination, you'd probably consider it. It would also be appealing to those who either couldn't fly for health reasons, had a phobia, or deemed it unsafe.

Has anyone seen anything like this in reality? Did it work?

dbarrett, Feb 02 2004

Land Yachting http://www.halfbake...dea/Land_20Yachting
The upscale version. [phoenix, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 17 2004]


       splendid idea! i just took a few night buses through the worst roads i'v ever seen (mombasa-Nairobi, Naivasha-Kisumu in Kenya) and my word, did i need a sports bra. this might catch on well in australia where there's long distances between major cities, but England is too weeny to need it, and i reckon America is already so used to flying that people wouldn't know a sleeper bus if it ran them over.
caughtwithpantsdown, Feb 02 2004

       I'd feel strange trying to sleep in a publicly open space, there are a lot of wierdo's about. Can I have some sort of curtain to draw around my seat-bed?

Wow [toejam], the bus looks quite swish from the 360° panoramic.
silverstormer, Feb 02 2004

       I just tried an example with US prices. A round-trip from Sacramento to Salt Lake City costs $109 by Greyhound bus, compared to $179 by air. It’s about 600 miles (1000 km) and takes 6.5 hours by bus, or 1.5 hours by air.   

       For a round-trip from Seattle to Los Angeles (1200 miles or 2000 km), it’s 29 hours and $149 by bus, or 2.5 hours and $233 by plane.   

       (The economics would probably work out better if there was more competition among bus lines, and less government subsidies of airlines.)
AO, Feb 02 2004

       Last bus trip I took, it was a rolling freakshow/looney-bin. The airlines at least TRY to weed-out the completely psychotic patrons. I believe there are some charter bus lines that have beds and the like. Cruise arround the country like some (popular) touring rockstar and such.
Letsbuildafort, Feb 02 2004

       I once travelled from London to Marseille in an amazing bus which looked like it had regular seats. However the seats were actually cleverly hinged, and during the ferry crossing the driver converted them all into bunk beds, in a "Transformers, robots in disguise" styl-ee. I can't remember the detail, as I was only ten years old, but I'm not sure I'd sleep so soundly on a bus these days.   

       Sadly though, I guess that makes this baked. Sorry.
Fishrat, Feb 03 2004


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