Luxury bus startup Leap shut down by state

The juice bar and leather armchairs were fun while they lasted.

San Francisco luxury bus service Leap, which has been operating without the proper license, has temporarily suspended service through at least the end of this week, citing “a regulatory issue” that snarled its operations, the startup announced on its Facebook page Tuesday.

The company, which started service without a permit, was given the green light to transport more affluent passengers to and from the city’s Marina neighborhood by the California Public Utilities Commission last month. However, the company said Tuesday that the finalization of the permitting process has been held up “due to various clerical issues and we have now been issued a Cease and Desist notice from the PUC.

“While we believe that our service is in full compliance with all state and local laws, we have decided to halt operations until we clear this final hurdle,” Leap said in its Facebook statement.

The startup had been on a rocky road since its launch in March. A disability advocacy group threatened Leap with legal action because the buses do not accommodate wheelchairs, as the San Francisco Chronicle reported last month. Apparently, Leap purchased used, wheelchair-accessible public transit buses and then retrofitted them to add bar seating and armchairs in the spaces once reserved for wheelchairs, the Chronicle’s Kristen Brown reported. The Independent Living Resource Center in San Francisco filed the complaint.

On its website, the company says: “As we expand, we plan to build buses with wheelchair access.”

There are few symbols of the young, tech-fueled wealth in San Francisco that is driving a gaping economic divide in the city that are more conspicuous than Leap. The company caters to commuters who want to avoid the unpleasantries of public transit, offering riders cold-pressed juices, Wi-Fi, work spaces, a snack bar and Blue Bottle coffee. The entire shuttle service is operated through a smartphone app.

It runs a single route between the Marina and Financial District, and buses circulate every 15 minutes or less. Rides are normally $6 for one way, although the website promotes a $2 per-ride limited special.

Headquartered in San Francisco, Leap has raised $2.5 million in venture capital and is backed by Andreessen Horowitz, Tim Draper, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff, Index Ventures and Slow Ventures.

 Photo courtesy Leap


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  • Judee Wudruff

    Leap is weak. Operating a ride service without a permit is unconscionable. WTF were these idiots thinking!?! If you live in SF, you will know that this type of ride service is pure folly. SF doesn’t need it. This just adds more cars on the road.

  • Jeffrey Fry

    Dudes? Really? you could not get a permit BEFORE you started operations? Like what, the $200 was too much?