BoltBus review

I took the BoltBus up to NYC and back this weekend, so thought I’d post a review.  This is unsolicited, and they didn’t comp me anything.

Although you can’t tell it from their website, BoltBus is actually run by Greyhound/Trailways.  It’s their attempt to compete with the "Chinatown buses" which have been kicking their behinds over the past few years on the DC-NY and NY-Boston routes.  Like the Chinatown buses, it’s very cheap — I paid $35 round trip, but they’re selling at least one seat on every trip for just $1 — and doesn’t require you to go to the bus terminal.  (The Port Authority isn’t too bad in NYC, but the bus terminal in DC is several blocks from the metro, and not in the best of neighborhoods).

Unlikely the Chintown buses, on BoltBus, the seats are spread out enough to provide decent legroom, there are powerpoints for each pair of seats, and there’s free wi-fi.  There are screens on the buses, but they didn’t show movies on the trips I took, and it was blessedly quiet.  The buses are new and shiny — in fact, the worst problem on my trip was one of the buses was so new that it stunk from the plastics outgassing.

I hate driving long distances, so even when gas was cheap, I’d almost never drive up to NYC by myself.  As a solo traveler, the question for me is whether the cost savings of a bus is worth the inconvenience compared to taking Amtrack.  Two years ago, the last time I took the bus to NYC, I took the bus one way, the train the other.  With these new buses, the "price" I pay in discomfort for taking the cheaper option has gotten a lot smaller.  (Note that I did go up Thursday and return Saturday — I suspect the more crowded Friday and Sunday buses may be less comfortable.)

The bus is almost comfortable enough that I’d consider taking the boys on it, rather than driving as a family.  With the outlets, I could probably hypnotize them with the portable DVD player enough to keep them from being disruptive.  And between the cost of gas, tolls, and parking in NYC, busfare for three or four is somewhat cheaper than driving, even if we don’t get the super-cheap fares.  But the boys are used to traveling by car, and being able to bring their own sleeping bags and suitcases, and I wouldn’t want to deal with hauling all that on and off the bus.

One Response to “BoltBus review”

  1. wooot Says:

    Yeah the Bolt Bus is indicative of a new trend of non-Chinatown buses entering the fray, with slightly higher prices and drastically better quality. I’m a huge fan of Bolt, Megabus, Vamoose, Tripper, DC2NY, and all of the other buses that have appeared in the past coupla years. A good place to find these sorts of tickets is at http://www.busjunction.com which is a search engine for discount bus tickets.

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