Bus line offers Bay Area fare deal

Times Staff Writer

California Shuttle Bus, which runs express buses between the Los Angeles and San Francisco areas, began offering fares as low as $5 each way Monday. Previously, one-way tickets cost $45.

The move came a day after competitor Megabus, which touted fares as low as $1, shut its Los Angeles hub because of low ridership.

Only a few seats on each vehicle that California Shuttle Bus operates on the route will sell for $5; the highest price for a ticket will be $49. Pick-up locations include downtown and Hollywood.

Kazuhiro Nakagawa, founder and chief executive of San Jose-based California Shuttle Bus, said he believed there was a market for low-cost bus transportation between Southern and Northern California.


“Many Megabus customers were disappointed that the company canceled their Los Angeles-San Francisco service and are excited that we are offering the same route with more convenient pick-up locations at amazing prices,” Nakagawa said. “Many Californians care about the environmental impact as much as affordability and we are offering them a service where they can have both.”

Operating a budget bus service is a far cry from Nakagawa’s previous endeavor: For more than two decades, he ran a luxury bus service for Japanese tourists who paid $10,000 each for whirlwind tours of the United States.

Over the years, he built that firm into an enterprise with 24 buses, nearly 200 employees and $36 million a year in revenue. But a sour Japanese economy and the lingering effects of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks hampered business, and Nakagawa sought a new niche by founding California Shuttle Bus in 2003.

The company operates one bus a day in each direction between Los Angeles and San Francisco, and two buses each way on Fridays. Nakagawa said he planned to add trips if demand dictated.