Sleeping on the road: Riding Scania’s Sleeper Buses

Drivers are always envious of their passengers whenever they fall asleep. I know because my friends always complain about me sleeping during the full length of the drive. What they don’t know is that sleeping in a car isn’t really fun either. Your body is not in a rested position and you might end up stuck in weird ways, ending with body pain instead of a rested body afterwards. 

So I jumped at the chance when we were invited to try out Scania’s Sleeper Buses. Not only will it put my ‘sleepy’ expertise to the test, I’ll finally be able to check an item in my bucket list – officially sleeping on the job. 

I have to thank GV Florida Transport, Inc as they are the one who ordered these units from BJ Mercantile, Inc. the official dealer of Scania buses in the Philippines. They ordered a total of 23 units, 4 of which are in the Executive Sleeper Bus configuration, while the rest are either in Deluxe or Super Deluxe that consists of supple recliner seats. 

Leilani Tan, Vice President of BJ Mercantile, presents the ceremonial key of Scania Buses to GV Florida Transport, Inc. represented by Jun Florida and Virgilio Florida Sr. 

Inside the bus are 23 spacious cabins divided into 2 rows in a double deck configuration. There’s powered folding steps for all the upper cabins that can hold around 150 kgs of weight (or more since it didn’t really feel like breaking under me when I used it) and each has its own curtain for some privacy. The aisle is wide enough for the average and bigger than average person like me. Best of all, its comfort room is spaced just enough and has a bidet. 

Once in the cabin, you’ll have a lot of amenities to keep you comfortable. First is the tablet sized screen with a good amount of stored movies and music for your entertainment. You’ll also have headphones for private listening and complimentary blanket in case the aircon is too cold for you. There’s also a USB charging port, dual cup holders, shoe bag, WiFi, and complimentary snacks and drinks. 

The beds of Scania’s Sleeper Buses are more like recliner seats in a leg-up position than a flat bed. The backrest is pushed pretty far back to have your whole back supported, while the leg rest has a proper decline around the knee area, again for full support of the legs. This is better than others with a flat seat because there’s enough bolstering on the backrest, headrest, and even the base of the seat to hold you in place once the bus gets on turns and winding roads. Space is also abundant that even a wide man like me was very comfortable fitting in thanks to GV Florida opting for just 2 rows. 

The experience is almost perfect. We rode from Scania’s showroom in Balintawak to GV Florida’s Pink Pantry in TPLEX – a 132 km adventure (one way). I played Guardians of the Galaxy on the tablet and I think we haven’t even gotten past Bocaue yet before I fell asleep. The next thing I knew, we stopped in the Pink Pantry for some rest and snacks. I told you, I’m a passenger prince. 

Now because of the way the beds are contoured, you are assured of a pain-free rest during the whole ride. The pushed back backrest allowed for good spread of weight, unlike in a car where most of your upper body weight all falls down to your lower back. The headrest bolster, together with the neck pillow, also ensured my head is in a neutral position to avoid neck pain. 

Some took notice of the wedge in front of us for the foot area. This sharply angled panel kept us from fully stretching our legs or even having our feet in a 12 o’clock position (I had mine sideways for the whole trip). 5’7 me found this compromise good enough since if they allowed more room for the feet, the backrest couldn’t be reclined as much as it did. Besides, you can just cross your legs anyway or what I did – have your feet sideways. 

Another thing that helped me sleep almost the entirety of our 132 km trip is the NVH of the bus. The air suspension is tuned in such a way that it firms up for road imperfections. Once you go through a pothole, it doesn’t really bounce around. It immediately returns to its neutral position. This way it avoids inducing dizziness to the passengers. Combine this with the sound isolation of the bus that even the harsh rain outside is barely heard and you’ll really have a blissful ride. 

Aside from these comfort amenities, Scania also has something for the drivers as well. The Scania K360 chassis used here all have Electronic Stability Program, Secondary Brakes, Hill Hold Control, Cruise Control, Air Suspension with Adjustable Height, dashcam, and a CCTV. 

Powering this bus is a 360 horsepower engine that pushes out 1,750 Nm of torque. 

Add to that Scania’s excellent aftersales service, their powerful Fleet Management System that can even read braking and throttle inputs of the driver, Driver Training Program, and 24/7 service assistance and there will be minimal downtime for your units. 

The buses were all configured to the desires of GV Florida. So if you’re a fleet owner looking into having your own Sleeper Buses, remember that you can have a different unit put together just for your company. Maybe you want less cabins so each has more legroom? Or do you really want a bed per cabin? Just ask BJ Mercantile, Inc. and they’ll do it for you.

Right now the Scania Sleeper Buses ordered by GV Florida will ply Manila to Tuguegarao and vice-versa only for PHP 1,800 pesos. They are accepting walk-ins in their Manila and Tuguegarao terminals, but can take reservations as well. Head on to their Facebook page to learn more. 

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