Luxury on the highway competes with the skyways

They haven't advertised it as the most relaxed way to fly from Los Angeles to San Diego or Los Angeles to Santa Barbara. That's because Emerald Express (EE) doesn't fly on that route at all but competes with the airlines by rolling along the California freeways city to city in its 10-door specially built cruisers.

The new transportation concept for people matches airline services in price (about $49 one way); and in portal-to-portal destination times (assuming passengers would have to leave early to get to an airport). Reservations are necessary, and passengers are picked up as part of the deal at home, at airports , or at offices in chauffeur-driven cars. Emerald Cruiser service on the city-to-city runs offers recliner seating, individual work tables, private climate control, and telephone service. On arrival, passengers again get chauffeur-driven delivery to specific individual destinations. Emerald Express at present makes 30 trips daily to San Diego and 16 trips to Santa Barbara.

''Our brand-new service has been very well received in the L.A. area where freeway congestion can cause real delays getting to airports,'' said an Emerald Express executive. ''We believe the convenience and comfort we offer - and for the same price - has made the idea catch on.'' The EE management, he said, is working on starting similar services in northern California and in some other metropolitan areas of the country. Later this fall in the Los Angeles region EE expects to extend its runs to Palm Springs.

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