By Nate Berg
The bus stop, outside a pancake restaurant in San Francisco’s upscale Marina district, is like any other. The bus is not. Sky-blue, minimally branded, advertisement-free, it pulls up to the curb, where a handful of young, affluent people wait, phones in hands. As we step through its doors it feels like we’re entering some sort of a mirror world, a bizarro version of a bus where crowds, security cameras, rule signs and the dusty soot of city commuting have all been replaced by polished wood, black leather, spacious seating and a general air of calm cleanliness.
Passengers hold up their smartphones to scan QR code tickets on a mounted tablet at the front of the bus, and move into the seating area. A few rows of plush leather armchairs face a row of stools at a laptop-friendly bar. One woman opens a laptop. The others – there are just seven riders on this recent Friday morning commute – are deeply engrossed in their phones. The bus attendant, like a steward on a plane, mans a mini-fridge stocked with drinks and snacks for sale. He’s got two varieties of iced coffee, cold-pressed juices, yoghurts and granola bars. You can buy them via credit card through Leap’s app, and he’ll hand-deliver them to you in your seat.
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