Business & Economy

California shuts down pricey private San Francisco bus

In this April 14, 2015 photo, a Leap employee walks to the back of the bus in San Francisco. Leap, a bus company that offers rides with spacious seating, free Wi-Fi and attendants who deliver snacks, announced on its Facebook page this week that buses would go offline.
In this April 14, 2015 photo, a Leap employee walks to the back of the bus in San Francisco. Leap, a bus company that offers rides with spacious seating, free Wi-Fi and attendants who deliver snacks, announced on its Facebook page this week that buses would go offline.
Jeff Chiu/AP

A state agency has shut down a luxury commuter bus service that some say spotlighted the gap between wealthy tech workers in San Francisco and everyone else.

Leap, which charged $6 a ride between the tony Marina District and downtown San Francisco, announced on its Facebook page Tuesday that buses would go offline "at least through the end of this week."

The California Public Utilities Commission informed Leap in a May 11 cease-and-desist letter that the company had not satisfied certain requirements for operation, such as getting liability and workers' compensation insurance. The company also failed to request safety inspections from the California Highway Patrol, as required.

PUC spokeswoman Constance Gordon said Leap can resume service once it meets requirements.

Leap founder Kyle Kirchhoff did not immediately return an email requesting comment. The company's Facebook post said Leap decided to halt service until it could clear this regulatory hurdle: "We know that this is extremely frustrating for you and — believe us — it kills us to do so."

Leap's big blue buses offered cold juices, fancy coffee and free Wi-Fi. Fans said they preferred the roomy buses over public buses, which cost $2.25 per ride but can be unreliable and overcrowded at peak times. Others criticized Leap for failing to accommodate disabled riders, including passengers in wheelchairs.

Chariot, a competitor, shuttles commuters via passenger vans that circulate over five routes in San Francisco. Chariot continues to operate.