A sleeper bus (also known in the USA as an Entertainer Coach and in Europe as a Nightliner) is a type of specially adapted coach, often used to transport bands and their technicians and road crew between cities and shows.
In Europe, these vehicles are full-sized coaches, but are only designed internally to carry between 8 and 18 passengers. There are always full galley facilities, comfortable lounges and bunk beds to allow the passengers to eat, relax and sleep during the journey to the next gig or concert. These vehicles sometimes have blacked out or mirrored windows, allowing passengers to see out, but preventing fans from peering in. They are well equipped, as the comfort of the passengers is paramount. DVD players, large screen plasma televisions, and game systems are now the norm, while some vehicles even have personal DVD players and screens in each bunk.
Well known bands such as Bon Jovi or U2 may use as many as seven or eight sleeper buses on their tours to accommodate the many road crew required. These bands rarely travel on the bus though; they use air transport or limousines or a luxury splitter Tour Bus, leaving their crew members to travel by bus. Smaller, less well known bands will usually travel on the bus along with their tech crew.
Sleeper coaches have come a long way since the old days when ex-National Express coaches were retired into sleeper coach use. Nowadays, the leading companies are buying new coaches, which after fitting out, cost over £350,000 ($630,000USD), though the hire rates for these coaches are not much more than conventional coaches.
Both in the United Kingdom and the U.S., there has been an increase of expectations: TV and PlayStations in every bunk, 3G internet access, coffee machines, wide memory foam mattresses, decent air conditioning, etc.
Some travel companies have these as mobile hotels, taking tourists to locations where there is no hotel, or there are long distances overnight.
In Western China and Central Asia, Sleeper buses are commonly used to travel between remote cities and villages where there are no train lines. They are notoriously crowded, uncomfortable, and dangerous, but can present the adventurous traveler with a highly cost effective alternative to flying.
In India these buses are used for inter city travel and are operated by private bus companies. They are operated between cities which are 6 hours to 10 hours apart by road. The journeys usually start late in the evening or at midnight and are scheduled so that most of the travel is at night. This service is a good alternative to trains, as seats in trains get booked well in advance. Also, these buses are seldom filled beyond capacity.
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Also known as
- Band bus
- Crew bus
- Entertainer bus
- Sleeper coach
- Tour Bus
Usually built by a specialist 'coachbuilder on the chassis of choice from any manufacturer to suit the client.
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- "Sleeper Motor Coach Has Two Story Berths", January 1933, Popular Mechanics article and drawing on 1930s era sleeper coaches
- Band Bus information website