Boston: Now What (Redux)
January 14, 2013 8:45 AM   Subscribe

I have NYC-Boston down to a science. Now please help me figure out the other end of my trip to the suburbs in a sane fashion.

Cannot believe this question was already four + years ago.

The advice and suggestions there have served me well over the 20-30 trips in that time. I've done both the 350 (Burlington Mall) and 62/76 (Bedford VA Hospital or along the Great Road) from Alewife with great success. However my aunt is increasingly unwell, no longer driving and therefore pick ups aren't an option and I've opted for a car rental although I discovered that the 350 does stop outside the hospital she uses so that remains an option when she's in.

What I've done is take the red line to Central Square and picked up a car at the Enterprise there. It's cheap car rental, doesn't require driving downtown Boston and is an easy shot up to Bedford/Burlington via Memorial/Route 2/128. Is that the best option? All in (gas, RT transit to NYC, T fare and car rental) it was about $85. Of course cutting out the car and just doing T/bus is significantly cheaper but the ~$40 car rental and ~$7 gas was worth it for convenience and flexibility. Is there another place I could consider renting from that would be cheaper (without the trade off of further and therefore more gas)? Downtown Boston is out as driving there gives me heebie jeebies.

As I see it - these are the other NYC-BOS options:

-Rent a car in NYC and drive up and back (don't like idea of Cross Bronx near rush hour and 95 - car rental is more expensive here and uses the most gas. Plus there are tolls if I go 84/Mass Pike vs. 95 the whole way).

-Metro North to New Haven, rent a car and drive to Boston (cheaper car rental then NYC, uses less gas. Still long ish drive at 2 hours each way.)

-Amtrak to Providence and rent a car there (shorter drive, but Amtrak cost alleviates savings over not renting a car in NYC. Side note: bus to Providence is more expensive and longer than bus to Boston, WTF?)

-Amtrak to the 128 station (RTE) and rent a car there. Distance wise, probably longer than Cambridge but straight shot up 128 and probably faster than in and out of Cambridge. Car rental comparable but there's no bus service there that I can find so the cost of Amtrak drives it up.

Any options that I'm missing? Anything else I should consider?

TL;DR easiest/sanest way to get from South Station to Boston suburbs please?

Thanks all!
posted by TravellingCari to Travel & Transportation around Boston, MA (23 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I am seriously confused.

You are trying to go from NYC to a Boston suburb. First of all, which suburb?

Second, are you going to visit a relative in a hospital? Which hospital?


Is the relative trying to get from home to a hospital for a procedure, and you are going to be driving her?

My answers will be very different depending on a) which suburb, b) which hospital, and c) why you are going to the hospital and if the relative will be going with you.
posted by zizzle at 9:00 AM on January 14, 2013

Best answer: For straight cost issues: Do the various NYC/BOS busses still stop at Riverside MBTA station? Cheaper than the train, although you'll need to T or bus to a car rental place - I don't think anyone has rental right near the station.
posted by rmd1023 at 9:06 AM on January 14, 2013

Best answer: Have you looked into using Zipcar rather than a rental car once you get to Boston? That could be a better option depending on the length of your visit.
posted by alms at 9:07 AM on January 14, 2013

Response by poster: Sorry. I think my frazzledness at her re-admission moved into my writing.

Hospital is Lahey Clinic in Burlington. Her home is in Bedford. (There's also a rehab place in play too but I don't know the name other than it's in Woburn so we'll eliminate that at this time)
Ideally more of the visiting will be Bedford but her health dictates that it may not be the case.

I know my way around Bedford/Burlington/Lexington fairly well - it's getting between there and South Station or other bus/rail spot that I'm less sure about.

posted by TravellingCari at 9:07 AM on January 14, 2013

Best answer: For times when you can take the 350, there are Boston/NYC Alewife buses through Gobusboston.

Otherwise your Central Enterprise plan isn't a bad one.
posted by ldthomps at 9:09 AM on January 14, 2013

Best answer: Amtrak to 128 would probably be your cleanest option, provided that you can rent a car within walking distance of the station. Suburban car rentals can be dicey. I found this Hertz page but it doesn't look too promising.

Other than that, Amtrak from NYC to Boston South Station, red line from South Station to Central Square, since you're already familiar with it.

Don't drive from NYC to Boston unless you absolutely have to, it's ugly, tiring, and boring, and I've heard that Connecticut cops stop you for speeding at the drop of a hat. Acela will get you to South Station in 3 1/2 hours or so.
posted by Currer Belfry at 9:09 AM on January 14, 2013

Best answer: You know that South Station is about 2 minutes from the highway, right? You really wouldn't have to drive in downtown Boston in any way that would be different than just driving on a busy highway anywhere. If there is a Zipcar near the station (and I assume there is) I would use that.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 9:11 AM on January 14, 2013 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Call the clinic - it looks like they have a shuttle bus to South Station.
posted by Slap*Happy at 9:14 AM on January 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Oh, they might be able to arrange a rental car delivery/pickup at the clinic, too.
posted by Slap*Happy at 9:18 AM on January 14, 2013

Best answer: Easiest, if you drive, would be to get a Zipcar near South Station and just get right on I-93. So easy. I mean, there might be traffic but it's not complicated at all. You would spend all of three minutes on city streets. That's more expensive than a standard car rental of course.

Or go to the car rental places near Long Wharf/the Aquarium. Short walk from South Station and easy access to I-93.

I think driving in Central Square is about a million times worse than driving in Boston, at least the part of Boston you'd be driving in.

Oh there is the problem of the convention center fee for in-Boston rentals, which bumps up the price. With Zipcar you only pay that fee once a year, and you don't pay for gas, and you have more insurance included than with a standard rental car, so it's not as bad a price as it might seem.
posted by mskyle at 9:28 AM on January 14, 2013

Response by poster: Thanks on thoughts on driving in Boston. I did it once for my brother's graduation (don't remember hotel name) and found it infuriating when I could see the hotel but couldn't get there due to one ways, etc. One way streets were annoying in Central Square but didn't bother me.

And I'd totally forgotten about ZipCar so thanks for that reminder. Last few times I've had the car about 5-6 hours depending on traffic (Yes, I was sitting on 128 when it was closed last Weds).

Currer Belfry: Amtrak to 128 would probably be your cleanest option, provided that you can rent a car within walking distance of the station. Suburban car rentals can be dicey. I found this Hertz page but it doesn't look too promising.
Don't drive from NYC to Boston unless you absolutely have to, it's ugly, tiring, and boring, and I've heard that Connecticut cops stop you for speeding at the drop of a hat. Acela will get you to South Station in 3 1/2 hours or so.

Thanks on Hertz. I found an Enterprise in Westwood that picks up. Hadn't found the Hertz by address. I used to do the drive regularly but I quit driving regularly about 4-5 years ago and now I avoid it whenever possible. Still know where the cops sit on 84. Last rental car had FL plates so I was watching the speed - but it gave me an out when I whiffed on the rotaries between Cambridge and 128.

Thanks all!
posted by TravellingCari at 9:35 AM on January 14, 2013

Best answer: There's a nyc -> alewife bus now.

Zipcars are not too far from alewife if the 350 connection fails. Also check the zipcar overnight special, not bad if it fits your schedule.
posted by sammyo at 10:58 AM on January 14, 2013

Best answer: If you can plan out the visits with any sort of advance notice, round-trip JFK->BOS flights actually tend to be cheaper than Amtrak (I can usually get $120 fares with all the taxes paid, as opposed to $200+ for any train running at a reasonable hour), which is way faster than a bus or Acela. Bus will probably win on price, but I hate the NYC->BOS bus trip with the heat of a thousand suns. That'll put you at Logan, which has many car rental options and is the nexus of the universe for shuttles to outer suburbs. Logan is also directly on 93, so you'd miss all the downtown traffic, and you'd be looking at a 25-minute drive to Burlington unless you hit at 6:00 PM.
posted by Mayor West at 11:02 AM on January 14, 2013

Response by poster: You are all amazing. Thank you!

Had no idea about the Alewife bus (and I love the Riverside stop for visiting other family near Framingham). Will price Zip Car for the hours I tend to need it - probably much better option than the full day car rental for some of my short trips. On the plus side, the Enterprise and Hertz rentals have been useful for air/Amtrak miles.

Good to know on JFK-BOS flights. I've done the Delta Shuttle a few times and also found that comparable. Amtrak can be either reasonable or ridiculous. I don't love the NYC-BOS bus ride, especially round trip the same day but some times it's just what works.

Thanks again.
posted by TravellingCari at 2:46 PM on January 14, 2013

Response by poster: I'm within my 7-day window and there's a new development to this so I'm adding on and will ping a few of you for additional info. I hope that's within the guidelines.

So rather than the senior center she'd hoped to be moving to, my aunt is moving to hospice tomorrow**. It's in Wayland. I've looked into bus/train to Framingham from NYC and they don't run frequently enough to be of use so it looks like bus to South Station and then commuter rail or Peter Pan (similar cost, bus seems faster) to Framingham and rent a car.

Is there any other option I'm missing? A station nearer to Wayland that might have a rental car and / or taxi that would service Wayland? It doesn't appear that commuter rail serves Wayland but I don't know all the names of the surrounding towns.

** I do realize that this will mean a short term of travel for me. I'm just hoping there's enough tine since getting a car & driving now is not feasible for various reasons.

posted by TravellingCari at 9:07 PM on January 20, 2013

Best answer: Yikes, that does complicate things. The only hospice care place in Wayland that shows up on Google is Parmenter, which is all-but-unreachable on public transit... you'd be looking at a commuter rail ride, a bus transfer, and a mile-and-a-half walk to make it work. Given the state of sidewalks in the outer burbs, the walking part of that trip would be somewhere between hostile and impossible if there had been snow.

You mention that the bus to Framingham wouldn't work for your timetable, so I'm wondering what flexibility you would need in schedule. Greyhound runs to and from Framingham every couple of hours on weekends (it's the second-to-last stop on the regular NYC->BOS route), and the stop is about 7/10 of a mile from an Enterprise rental, and that part of Framingham is walkable in a pinch.

Actually, now that I look at it, the bus station itself is a pretty short cab ride (~3.5 miles) from the hospice center, so depending on whether this would be a day trip or if you were planning to stay overnight, you might even be able to get off the bus in Framingham, take a cab to the hospice, visit, take a cab back, and catch a later bus back to NYC (last one leaves around 8:15). That would save you a car rental and a hotel room.
posted by Mayor West at 5:42 AM on January 21, 2013

Response by poster: Thanks, Mayor West. That's interesting that you're getting NYC-BOS results, I'm getting ones that go into Boston and come back out, ex (last column is transfer station). Maybe I'll call Greyhound to see if something just isn't coming up on search.

8:30 AM 1:30 PM 5:00 EXP 2518 Boston --.--
2:30 PM 8:00 PM 5:30 EXP 2546 Boston --.--

It's less the flex, more that going into Boston and back out loses a lot of time - whereas I can go into Boston on the 330 AM Peter Pan from NY, get to South Station at 8 and be in Framingham by 9 giving me more of the day.

Thanks on the distance tip - didn't realize Framingham and Wayland were that close. Taxi definitely a saner option I think. Will call a couple in Framingham to see if they service Wayland.

Thanks again
posted by TravellingCari at 7:59 AM on January 21, 2013

Best answer: I do see a handful that send you all the way into Boston and then back out an hour later, but they look like they're in the minority--the rest are either direct, or have you transfer in Hartford (which isn't too far out of the way--looks like it adds about 20 minutes). The Framingham stop is literally on the way into the city (it's a couple of minutes off of the Pike heading east), and every NYC->BOS bus I've ever taken has stopped there en route, much to my annoyance.
posted by Mayor West at 10:49 AM on January 21, 2013

Best answer: Take the Go Bus from New York City to the Riverside T Station in Newton, Mass. Travel time 4:15.

Take a taxi from the Riverside T Station to Wayland. Travel time 15 minutes.

Total travel time could be as low as 4:30 one way.
posted by alms at 7:37 PM on January 21, 2013

Response by poster: thank you Alms, and Mayor West again. Really appreciate the help here and from those of you who have chimed in via MeMail. Makes this part saner on my family.
posted by TravellingCari at 6:59 AM on January 22, 2013

Response by poster: so the answer, at least for the current trip ended up a hybrid. Go Bus to Riverside where my brother picked me up. I then rode with him back to Albany where I caught Amtrak. Fastest, no, but it was good to be with family after the visit. I'll probably continue to use a hybrid of the above for whatever time is left. Thanks again all!
posted by TravellingCari at 2:57 PM on January 29, 2013

Response by poster: My aunt passed last night.

Thank you all for your help with the directions - it allowed me to spend time with her in her last weeks.
posted by TravellingCari at 3:25 PM on February 1, 2013

Best answer: I'm very sorry for your loss. I'm glad we were able to help.
posted by rmd1023 at 3:29 PM on February 1, 2013

« Older closed caption / subtitle transcript availablility   |   Online Math Tutor Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.