Operations

Cabin Mixes Luxury Bus Service With Tech

Lexi Tucker
Posted on July 25, 2018

(l to r) Cabin co-founders Tom Currier (CTO) and Gaetano Crupi (CEO) are looking to take the way people travel and turn it into an experience unlike any other.

(l to r) Cabin co-founders Tom Currier (CTO) and Gaetano Crupi (CEO) are looking to take the way people travel and turn it into an experience unlike any other.

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. — Gaetano Crupi, CEO and co-founder of Cabin, knows ground transportation is changing at a rapid pace. In an era where autonomous and app-driven tech is gaining favor, it will take an amazing experience to wow people.

Crupi and Cabin CTO and co-founder Tom Currier understand while technology will constantly affect the way the public travels, they also believe a human element will continue to set their service apart for years to come.

From A Bus To A Cabin

Originally from Brazil, Crupi ended up coming to the U.S. for college. After graduating, he started out as an investment banker at Goldman Sachs, and eventually founded Machina Pictures, a video production company. He gained a passion for building teams and organizations, and wanted to take on something with more longevity. He met Currier through a mutual connection, and together they decided they would start their own venture in ground transportation.

Passengers ride from Los Angeles to San Francisco and vice versa in a comfortable, specially designed double decker bus.

Passengers ride from Los Angeles to San Francisco and vice versa in a comfortable, specially designed double decker bus.

“Once you start thinking about autonomous transportation, cars start performing like moving real estate,” Crupi says. “The type of service and business you have to develop is very different; more like a hotel or hospitality company. Design, amenities, acoustics, and connectivity start to come to the forefront of importance.”

The two business partners are fascinated with how moving environments will change in the future, and started their project under the name SleepBus as a test. The company would get passengers from Los Angeles to San Francisco, and vice versa, in a state-of-the-art motorcoach where they could sleep comfortably in individual pods until they reached their destination. They sold out inventory in just 48 hours, and knew they were on to something. They took that success and officially launched Cabin in 2017 a year ago.

The Cabin Journey from Cabin on Vimeo.

Flip That Motorcoach

Neither Crupi nor Currier come from the coach industry, so they used the “Silicon Valley method” and created their vehicles based on feedback from their SleepBus program.

They knew they wanted to work with large format vehicles and started with an “agnostic” double-decker shell. “We don’t use one particular brand because there’s so much modification we do, and that will only increase over time,” Crupi says.

Since their riders interact with the environment much more like they would a hotel or hostel than a bus, it was important to the team to create something that felt less like a motorcoach and more like a lodging on wheels…hence the company’s name. The pair worked with two people on the interior design, one of which is Crupi’s brother, Philip — a New York-based designer, entrepreneur, and adjunct professor at Columbia University. 

Each pod is perfect for your before bed rituals, from reading to charging your phone for the day ahead.

Each pod is perfect for your before bed rituals, from reading to charging your phone for the day ahead.

“He had experience with home and hotel architecture, and understood we didn’t want the vehicle to feel like the inside of a bus. There’s a lot of textile fabrics and wood — elements that felt more like a ship or train than an automobile,” he explains.

Using Smart Safety Measures

Each vehicle has two crew members on board: A driver and an attendant. Although Crupi and Currier are always viewing things in an autonomous sense, they understand people still desire human contact. This is why they feel it’s important to do it right.

The company’s number one priorities are being safe and on time. Unlike Uber and Lyft, Cabin is highly regulated and subject to inspections by the California Public Utilities Commission. The crew conducts pre- and post-departure safety checks, and is drug tested and background checked. In addition, drivers have strict controls on the hours they work to ensure they are well rested and ready for the long drive.

“We want our drivers to focus solely on driving. The attendant who accompanies them on every ride is there to answer guest questions and make sure people have anything they want,” Crupi says.

Adding to the safety aspect of the service is the fact since rides depart at 11 p.m., drivers don’t have to rush. With individual sleep pods for each rider, most of the time traveling is spent resting. “We aim for comfort, not speed,” he says.

Bunks also include a reading light, two regular outlets with two USB plugs, and a storage compartment.

Bunks also include a reading light, two regular outlets with two USB plugs, and a storage compartment.

The team has developed software to track acceleration and deceleration, bumpiness, and other factors to ensure ride safety and smoothness. “The quality of the drive becomes extremely important. It’s a completely different experience when people are trying to sleep. We’ve invested more in hiring drivers with a lot of experience so we don’t have to train them from scratch and can instead focus on adapting their skill set to driving the way we want them to drive — around comfort.” The Cabin team has measured the road quality on every route, and has optimized different routes with less road turbulence.

Just Like A Rolling Hotel

Guests are in for a relaxing trip from the time they step onto the bus to the time they wake up in the morning.  They are provided with nighttime tea, and they’ll find a bottle of water, a melatonin drink with chamomile to help them sleep, ear plugs, shoe bag, and facial wipes waiting for them on their bunk.

The linens are the same as the ones used at Ritz-Carlton properties and are changed and steamed fresh for every ride.

The linens are the same as the ones used at Ritz-Carlton properties and are changed and steamed fresh for every ride.

The linens are the same as the ones used at Ritz-Carlton properties and are changed and steamed fresh for every ride. Bunks also include a reading light, two regular outlets with two USB plugs, and a storage compartment. Oh, and don’t forget the onboard complimentary Wi-Fi.

The onboard bathroom is stocked with feminine hygiene products, mouthwash, toothbrush, and hand sanitizer…basically anything anyone could possibly need to feel clean and comfortable for the evening.

If riders don’t feel like sleeping, there’s a lounge on the first floor available for people to socialize or get some work done instead.

Pricing is based on demand, with tickets starting at $84 one-way. It's no surprise weekends might be priced higher, given demand and likelihood to travel versus during the week.

Destination: The Future

As of now, Cabin only travels from Los Angeles to San Francisco and back because the company wants to nail down the product and experience.

“We don’t want to scale until we have everything worked out,” Crupi says. They’d like to extend the network to destinations like San Diego, Santa Barbara, Phoenix, and Las Vegas, and eventually branch out into a national service with regional concentrations.

“We don’t want to be a transactional service. We want people to start saying ‘where do I want to go’ versus ‘where do I need to go.’”

Related Topics: buses, innovation, leisure travel, Los Angeles operators, motorcoach operators, motorcoaches, San Francisco operators, startup

Lexi Tucker Senior Editor
Comments ( 0 )
More Stories