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Private bus startup in San Francisco is temporarily off the roads

Private bus startup in San Francisco is temporarily off the roads

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Leap, San Francisco's luxury bus alternative, is shutting down service — at least temporarily. The company said on Facebook last night that the company received a cease and desist notice from the California Public Utilities Commission (PUC), so Leap is suspending its bus services through at least the end of this week due to "various clerical issues" the company has encountered on its way to working through regulatory challenges to the company's existence.

Leap used fairly innocuous language in its statement, but Buzzfeed is reporting that the company's issues with the PUC may be more involved. A PUC spokesperson told Buzzfeed that Leap has not yet fulfilled a number of requirements to doing business in the state, including evidence of workers' compensation insurance or evidence that its drivers completed required drug and alcohol testing. Leap is also required to request bus and terminal inspections from the California Highway Patrol, but the company hasn't done that yet.

Leap riders will need to put up with public transit (or just take an Uber)

For those who haven't encountered the Leap phenomenon yet, the company provides private bus service throughout a limited part of San Francisco. At $6 for a one-way ride, it's more than double the city's public bus system, but comes full of over-the-top amenities like Wi-Fi, reclaimed wood finishes, bar stools, $7 juices, and the overall vibe of a hip, expensive coffee shop. It's a bus for those who can afford comfort and want to get away from the problems that plague the city's public transit system (and don't mind feeling a little bit bad about themselves as they use it). Wealthy investors like Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff, Andreessen Horowitz, and venture capitalist Tim Draper are among its main backers.

Leap is confident it'll be back on the road soon, though. The company said in its Facebook posting that it believes it is "in full compliance with all state and local laws" and expects to be back on the road in short order. From the sound of things, the PUC has more concerns than simple clerical issues, though, so we'll be watching to see how long it takes to clear up these problems.

Update, 8:00PM ET: Added details from Buzzfeed's report into the cause of the cease and desist Leap received.