Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Planes, Trains, Automobiles and Buses to NYC

In the Tuesday Globe comes word of yet another low cost bus option to New York.

BOLTBUS will be jointly owned by Greyhound and Peter Pan promises fares no higher then $25 each way and some as low as a dollar. Instead of using the Port Authority Bus Terminal in Manhattan it will use a curbside stop adjacent to Madison Square Garden/Penn Station at 7th and 33rd St. It also promises free Wi-Fi and power outlets at every seat.

Greyhound and Peter Pan have for the past couple of years have had a low cost ticket to NY via internet only with tickets costing $20 one-way and $38 RT. This would seem to be an offshoot of this.

Of course the main reason for these prices is the option of the infamous Chinatown buses ( which Mayor Menino forced to use South Station ) The 2 major ones are Fung Wah and Lucky Star who both charge $15 each way and use lower Manhattan as their destination but adjacent to major subway lines. There is also the upscale LimoLiner which charges $89 from the Back Bay to Midtown and promises Wi-Fi service.

I travel to Manhattan often and I have to admit I have warmed to the bus and not just because of price. A look at the options.

Amtrak Acela costs $102-117 to NY from South Station as a walk up fare and is scheduled for 3 hours 30 minutes. However Amtrak's less fancy regional service costs only $59 walk up and takes just 30 minutes longer. The reality is between New Haven and New Rochelle the Acela can not travel any faster on the Metro-North tracks than the regular train and it is frustrating to be watching traffic on I-95 ( and the occasional Fung Wah bus ) going faster than the train.

Greyhound-Peter Pan averages 4 to 4 1/2 hours. Traffic on the Connecticut Turnpike is a crapshoot as you could breeze all the way into the Bronx or be bumper to bumper for miles and it is impossible to predict. Plus Greyhound-PP during the day goes into New Jersey and returns to Manhattan via the Lincoln Tunnel.

The Chinatown buses sometimes get creative in missing traffic jams and expect to be suddenly speeding down side streets in the Bronx and Queens if I-95 or the BQE back up. I was once on a Fung Wah that made the trip in 2 hours and 55 minutes and this was leaving Boston at 5 PM ( and a 15 minute stop at a McDonald's in Connecticut ) That was a little scary.

Flying? Why bother. The Delta Shuttle charges $339.50 for a walk-up ticket and by the time tou go to Logan, deal with security, finally get on the plane, land at LGA and then head for Manhattan how much time is being saved!!

You could drive....but what do you do with the car once you get to New York?

The easiest solution is simply avoid New York..but we are Bostonians and we are incapable of doing that.

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