NJ to PA travel advice
January 13, 2017 6:31 PM   Subscribe

What is the cheapest (/fastest/most efficient) way of getting from Jersey City (/Newark/Manhattan) to Exton (/Phoenixville/King of Prussia), PA?

Assume that the rolling-shitshow-of-a-dumpsterfire-on-wheels that is Greyhound will not be part of the equation as long as I suck air. (Long story, don't ask.) Also: WTF, Amtrack tickets out of Newark are ridiculously expensive.
posted by sexyrobot to Travel & Transportation (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Is this one-way or will you be coming back? How long will you be gone for? If you have a driver's license renting a car can be pretty cheap, especially outside of NYC proper. Certainly cheaper than Amtrak.
posted by Ampersand692 at 6:40 PM on January 13, 2017

Sorry...reasonably frequent round-trips...weekend to week-or-so in length...hopefully public transit/train/bus-that-is-not-Greyhound and under $50ish...and transferring to SEPTA in Philly is cool, but a direct route is even cooler. Renting a car is...probably way more $, esp when tolls are factored in (and the toll-free route takes for-ever)
posted by sexyrobot at 6:55 PM on January 13, 2017

Not sure what Amtrak tickets you're looking at (or what your price range is). The fastest/most efficent route would almost certainly be taking Amtrak's Keystone service directly from Newark to Exton, and I see tickets available for $43 one way if you're booking at least two weeks out, or $57 if you're booking on shorter notice. This is probably a 2.5 hour ride.

Otherwise, you're stuck trying to use the bus. If Greyhound (and its subsidiary BoltBus) is off the table, that means traveling into NYC to pick up a Megabus or other bus service to Philadelphia (probably ~$20 one way) and then take SEPTA regional rail out (~ $7). That probably means a 4 or 5 hour trip by the time you've gotten in to Manhattan and made all the connections.

(It looks like there's also a Megabus to Philly from Secaucus, but there's only one bus a day and it leaves at 4:30 am)
posted by firechicago at 7:02 PM on January 13, 2017 [1 favorite]

You can try posting on Craigslist ride share.

You can take a Megabus from New York to Philadelphia for $10 - $15, then take the Amtrak from Philadelphia to Exton, also for about $10-$15. (Prices are one way for both.) The Megabus lets out right by the Amtrak station. Be forewarned, if you've never taken Megabus, it can occasionally go an hour or so late, so that would factor into your time consideration if you're weighing this against just taking Amtrak the whole way.

I have never been able to rent a car cheaply without going at least an hour outside of the city (one of the airports or Connecticut). Even then, you are looking at $80-$100 a day.

If you don't want to do Greyhound, Amtrak, or renting a car, there is really no way left to do something direct.

On preview, got the same result on Amtrak as firechicago, and also recommend just taking Amtrak from Newark to Exton.
posted by unannihilated at 7:05 PM on January 13, 2017

Have you tried plugging the cities into Rome2rio.com?

How far in advance are you looking at Amtrack? THe cheapest base fare sells out quickly.
posted by oceano at 7:06 PM on January 13, 2017

I used to do NJ Transit to SEPTA, with a transfer in Trenton. Much cheaper than Amtrak but with the hassle of transfers and not being able to just buy one ticket up front. Both services were reasonably frequent.
posted by asperity at 7:20 PM on January 13, 2017 [2 favorites]

For what it's worth I work in Exton PA and live in South Jersey and my daily commute is about 75 minutes by car. I only mention this because I pass King of Prussia at highway speeds a solid 15 minutes before I get to Exton. I just wanted to make sure you had an appreciation of time and distance.
posted by forthright at 7:32 PM on January 13, 2017 [2 favorites]

There is a Septa bus line to the King of Prussia Mall, if you can get someone to pick you up or if you Uber it from there to your final destination. I'm not sure if this bus stops at 30th St, but it definitely stops at JFK Blvd and 20th St, which is about a (brisk) 10 minute walk from the station. If you could do a Boltbus or Megabus, to 30th St. Station, you could then catch the Septa bus. I think this bus mostly transports mall employees to and from their jobs, and it takes the Schuylkill expressway. Depending on the time of day there might be traffic delays, or not. It is cheap, the same price as any other city bus, which I think is about $2.25.

If you could get to Trenton, you could take Septa regional Rail to 30th St Station as well, then connect to the Septa bus, and that might be cheapest of all.
posted by citygirl at 7:34 PM on January 13, 2017

Septa train goes out to Exton . It used to be the same train (R5) that would then continue through Philly to Trenton, where you can transfer to NJ transit. I think they de-coupled the two Septa trains and so you might have to transfer in Philly. When I go to NYC from Philly, I do Septa - NJ transit because it's a decent balance of cheep and not awful. My partner commuted to Manhattan for a while and had enough bad bus experiences we don't do that any more. If you do it regularly on Amtrak, sign up for the rewards points.
posted by sepviva at 8:22 PM on January 13, 2017 [1 favorite]

NJ transit might be my missing link...is it the NJ light rail I'm looking for? Can I get on in JC or do I have to go to Newark or Hoboken?
posted by sexyrobot at 8:27 PM on January 13, 2017

Ah, yes...Googled it and NJ transit to SEPTA sounds like a plan (transfers don't bother me...crap-ass crap bus bothers me), and in my price range, and bonus: the train stops in Newark (near my house) and Penn Station in the city (near work) so I can leave from either :) Thanks guys! (I rarely get more than a few days notice when I have free time, so that's why I was getting ~$200 prices from Amtrack)
posted by sexyrobot at 8:53 PM on January 13, 2017

It looks like you've figured it out, but if you're in JC you can get the PATH to Newark.
posted by lyssabee at 5:46 AM on January 14, 2017

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