Need to take a bus from DC to New York City (NYC), or from NYC to DC? After taking four different bus lines I am now confident that I have found the best one: BoltBus. I rode on Greyhound, Chinatown’s Apex Bus, and Tony Coach in the past, and they all pale in comparison to Bolt.
Here is quick summary of why you should use BoltBus:
- Express service from DC to NYC and back (no shady stops in Baltimore)
- Onboard Wifi for Laptops
- Power Outlets on first ~12 rows of seats
- Pseudo-Leather Seats
- Rewards program (After 8 rides you earn 1 free ride)
- Amazingly responsive customer service (via e-mail at customerservice[at]boltbus[d0t]com)
BoltBus is comparable in price to most of the other bus lines. If you are the first person to book a ticket on a ride, your ticket only costs $1. After that, the tickets go up incrementally. Do not expect to pay under $15 for a one-way ticket. In general, expect to pay around $20 each way to get to NYC. Bolt also offers service to other cities including Boston and Philadelphia. BoltBus does sell available seats for $25 each way on a walk-up basis, but these seats are never guaranteed. Your best bet is to always book online in advance.
BoltBus is about as reliable as a bus can be, which is at best only slightly reliable. My experience with DC to NYC buses in general has been riddled with delays on all bus lines, BoltBus included. This usually cannot be held against any company, as they do not control traffic. BoltBus is by far the most reliable of any buses I have taken.
BoltBus drivers generally have a great personality, and make a legitimate effort to make sure everyone feels accomdated. BoltBus uses Southwest Airlines-style boarding, in which every person belongs to a boarding group (A,B, or C) and board the bus starting with group A. This is an ingenious idea, so people do not have to worry about showing up early to get a good seat on the bus. If you have an “A” boarding pass, you can feel safe arriving there 20 minutes before scheduled departure. Any later than that and you will be stuck boarding behind everyone else.
Wifi + Power
The one thing that really made BoltBus stand out for me is as simple as power. There are few things that can make a 4-6 hour bus ride enjoyable, but having unlimited use of power for a laptop is about as close as you can get to making it tolerable. To make matters better, they have wifi on board all buses. The wifi is VERY temperamental, so by no means should you ever depend on having internet access via BoltBus wifi. That being said, the wifi has worked much better as of late than it did when the bus line was first starting out.
Boltbus picks up in multiple locations in NYC, the one I always prefer is the Penn Station stop, which picks up at 33rd st and 7th Ave, right outside of Sbarro’s.
In closing, if you find yourself needing to travel between NYC and DC for cheap, Boltbus is definitely the best and most cost-effective method. Riding on buses for more than an hour is never fun, but BoltBus really does make the trip as enjoyable as it could possibly be. Feel free to also check out MegaBus which picks up in the same DC location as Boltbus. I have not tried it yet, but it is definitely a good second option should BoltBus ever be unavailable.
If speed is the most important factor, forget the bus, and even forget flying. Take the Acela, which generally costs around $130-$190, EACH WAY. It will get you from Union Station in DC to Penn Station in NYC in a blazingly fast 2 hours and 45 minutes (I clocked the speed of the Acela in excess of 140mph at some points of the trip via my Blackberry GPS), but you pay dearly for it.