Chinatown Bus Question
March 11, 2010 8:07 AM   Subscribe

I want to take a Chinatown bus from Baltimore to NYC. In NYC you can just go down to where the buses are and buy a ticket there. Is that possible in all other cities, especially Baltimore, as well? Or do I need to buy a ticket online beforehand?
posted by josher71 to Travel & Transportation around New York, NY (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Can't speak for Bal'mer but it works in DC.
posted by Pollomacho at 8:31 AM on March 11, 2010

You can get a ticket at the curb if there's space, sometimes you get a discount for getting your ticket ahead of time. You might want to check a couple of websites for times and what curbs, because they change locations all the time and Baltimore is probably less saturated with buses than NYC.
posted by anaelith at 8:43 AM on March 11, 2010

I see pollmacho beat me to it, but I came here to say I have done it in both DC and Boston.
posted by Nothing at 8:44 AM on March 11, 2010

I thoroughly recommend Megabus instead of the regular Chinatown bus. The earlier you buy your tickets, the less you are charged, and the buses are MUCH nicer.
posted by hermitosis at 9:04 AM on March 11, 2010

Unfortunately in Balitmore Megabus picks up in a place inconvenient to me. Boltbus is closer but mostly sold out for this weekend.
posted by josher71 at 9:10 AM on March 11, 2010

Don't forget Greyhound and Peter Pan too. Better buses, competitive pricing, more reliable...
posted by Pollomacho at 9:13 AM on March 11, 2010

In my experience in Philly and New York, just going down to the curb and buying the ticket is the only way to do it.

Sure, you can buy a ticket in advance (either at the curb on an earlier day or online), but they won't guarantee you a spot on a particular bus. They fill those buses up first come first serve, so there's no advantage to buying early. If you need a particular schedule, arrive early.
posted by 256 at 9:22 AM on March 11, 2010

Also these.

Today's Bus

Apex Bus

I think some operators do require a ticket in advance.
posted by y6t5r4e3w2q1 at 9:40 AM on March 11, 2010

I recommend not buying tickets in advance even from companies that allow you to do so. They don't care about reserving your seat: if more people buy tickets than can fit on the bus, you still may find yourself left behind. (This is only a problem on major travel days like before Thanksgiving; most of the time you don't worry about it, but do try to arrive 20-30 minutes in advance.)
posted by k. at 10:43 AM on March 11, 2010

Also, the above only applies to actual Chinatown buses. There are some Chinatown-like bus companies now that are a lot more systematic, and may even require you to buy tickets in advance, but I think the actual Chinatown ones remain as disorganized as ever.
posted by k. at 10:49 AM on March 11, 2010

Coincidentally, my friend gave his chinatown bus tips on his blog today. To answer your question, he says:

Don’t try to clever and buy your ticket in advance online.

I cant stress this one enough. These bus services are about as reliable as my income. So why limit yourself to one company by buying a ticket with them? First off buying a ticket in advance doesn’t guarantee you shit when the bus is full. You have to realize rules like “first come first served” don’t apply on the Chinatown bus because the Chinatown bus is a lawless place.

When you buy your ticket in advance your obligated to that company so when the bus is full your only option is to wait and hour til the next one comes. Or like me you can not buy a ticket in advance and simply walk down the block to another company and get right on their bus. Don’t be the asshole with the paper ticket rain!

That and sometimes those advance tickets are shit and the last thing you want to do before a long trip is have to argue your way onto a bus with someone who doesn’t speak English in a crowd of impatient people. Remember, we’re all in this together, don’t be the bus asshole.
posted by stachemaster at 11:11 AM on March 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

Remember, we’re all in this together, don’t be the bus asshole.

This is a phrase I'm going to be using often. Thanks.
posted by Jawn at 2:16 PM on March 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

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