Saturday, May 2, 2009

Bolt Bus to Philadelphia (May 2, 2009)

Early morning finds me in NYC sitting in the Bolt Bus to Philly. This trip has been long overdue and after delaying for what seems like an eternity, I finally decided to make this trip.

It is really cloudy and the weather forecast for Philly is not supposed to be any better. Luckily this is just a short splash and dash trip, so I am not bothered as much.

The main aim of this post was to also give my readers(!!!) an idea of the cheap ways of travel between Boston and New York City(NYC), and also points south.

Many people must be aware of the Chinatown buses which run between Boston and New York. Fung Wah and Lucky Star come to mind. These are cheap buses which load passengers and drive. They are the fastest way to travel (by bus) between these two cities as they have no stops in between and the drivers are single minded in their devotion to reach you there.

The buses are decent and they are a bit faster as the bus stop in NYC is in Manhattan just across the Manhattan Bridge and thus this bus reaches the city much faster than the other options. The rates are usually fixed at 15USD one way except for the early morning 2 am bus which costs 25USD.

Greyhound was the costlier option but they too have dropped their prices especially for the weekend (Friday, Saturday and Sunday). It is a flat web rate of 20USD which is quite good. Some of these buses have also started Wi-Fi and this should catch up in all of them pretty soon. The bus station in NYC is the Port Authority which is on 42nd and 8th.

The last two options: Bolt Bus and Mega Bus are the cheapest among these and also have a few more facilities. The major factor is the cost. If booked way in advance you could get tickets for a dollar. Even if you book a week or 2 before your actual journey the rates will be 10-12USD. There is free Wi-Fi too on these buses. (I am using it right now!)

The only slight problem is that these buses start off from outside Penn Station and the search to find the right stop is a bit of a hassle. Luckily there will usually be a crowd and more likely that is where the buses will stop.

From Boston all of them start at South Station – so there is no difference there.

If you really want to get into NYC in a hurry then Bolt and MegaBus may not be the right choice as to get to Penn Station in New York involves going through all the traffic. One of my MegaBus journeys took me close to 5 hours when if I had taken the Chinatown bus to Canal St and the subway to Penn would have taken me less than 4 hours. If you guys remember, this was the start of my UK trip.

Ultimately the train is more comfortable and faster, but the steep cost of the Acela express will deter lot of riders from plying on them.

Also, these buses have started to expand into other cities. Greyhound is the oldest so it does go to many cities, but the stops in many cities are not exactly in the best part of town.

Bolt goes to Boston, NYC, DC and Philadelphia. Mega Bus is expanding rapidly and includes the above cities along with a lot more cities. These two attract a lot more college crowd and the trip is quite pleasant but more crowded.

For more details:

Hope this helps as I thought a quick summary of these services could help in planning an inexpensive trip from Boston to NYC and back.

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