Greyhound or VaMoose from DC to NY and back?
June 12, 2007 1:24 PM   Subscribe

Round-trip bus ride from DC to NYC - Go Greyhound, VaMoose, or other?

I have to head up to New York on Sunday morning for a Father's Day lunch. I also have to be back in DC that evening. Amtrak and airplanes are prohibitively expensive, and I'm sans car this time around. So it's the bus for me.

I know of Greyhound, VaMoose, and the Chinatown busses- and I know enough about the Chinatown busses to know I'm not taking one, and certainly not two within a twelve-hour period.

Greyhound and VaMoose seem to be similar in rate, but I hear pros and cons of both: Greyhound doesn't guarantee a seat, Vamoose does; Greyhound stops near Union Station, VaMoose drops off in VA and MD; etc. Between those two ticket cost isn't that big a deal; I'll pay $20 more for VaMoose if it's a safer, cleaner, faster ride, and vice-versa.

Any advice on which line to book? Is VaMoose a better quality bus line than Greyhound? Is it more reliable? Is one faster? And so on. And of course, if there's a mysterious third option, I'm anxious to hear it.
posted by XQUZYPHYR to Travel & Transportation (15 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Forgot to add: the dropoff point issue isn't huge for me either. VaMoose stops about a block from the Bethesda Metro, and I live by the Cleveland Park stop.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 1:33 PM on June 12, 2007

I use Greyhound all the time for trips from New York to both DC and Boston. You just can't beat $35 round trip.

As for guaranteed seats, it's not something I worry about. I actually like the flexibility of Greyhound--you get in line, you get on the next bus that you fit on. Generally on such heavy routes as DC-NY and BOS-NY they leave so frequently the very most you'd wait is an hour, and that's rare. The only thing that really holds you up is traffic, and that's the same on every line.

Comfort? Eh. I grew up in Maine so always took the Concord Trailways back and forth to Boston. It's way nicer than anything I've found that goes to New York from anywhere. But Greyhound isn't bad, as long as you avoid sitting near obnoxious people.
posted by lampoil at 1:39 PM on June 12, 2007

VaMoose, definitely. When I lived in DC I rode them frequently and always found the buses to be clean and on time. Plus, they show (really awful) movies!
posted by fancypants at 1:39 PM on June 12, 2007

I know nothing about the Vamoose bus, but for cleanliness and seat comfort, I prefer the Chinatown bus to Greyhound. Also, the other passengers tend to be way, way less sketchy. I'm just sayin'.
posted by decathecting at 1:40 PM on June 12, 2007

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention the sketch factor. Vamoose riders (in my experience) tend to mostly be 20-somethings heading up to New York for the weekend. Greyhound definitely draws a more interesting crowd. Whether that's up your alley or not is, of course, a personal decision.
posted by fancypants at 1:43 PM on June 12, 2007

Yeah, I've never noticed an appreciable comfort/cleanliness/sketch difference with Greyhound vs. Fung Wah. They both suck, but they get the job done.
posted by tristeza at 1:45 PM on June 12, 2007

Oh, and I've never ridden VaMoose. If it takes you close to where you're going, it might be worth it. Neither Bethesda nor Arlington works for me.

The only thing I mind about the Chinatown bus is that even though it costs the same as Greyhound, I have to go all the way to Chinatown to catch it. Port Authority's more convenient for me. YMMV.
posted by lampoil at 1:46 PM on June 12, 2007

After riding both, I would choose based more on the pickup/drop-off locations than anything else.

Also IvyMedia has a good collection of the Chinatown bus schedules.
posted by exogenous at 2:08 PM on June 12, 2007

I'd say Vamoose. I had to travel to and from nyc every single Tuesday last fall, and had a chance to try just about every bus company there was. Vamoose consistently had the cleanest buses, best drivers, and every once in awhile a movie ( although an ipod video helped wonders ).

I'd stay the hell away from 2000 Coach (New Century) if I was you. I've got some horror stories.
posted by zap rowsdower at 2:53 PM on June 12, 2007

how about craigslist rideshare?
posted by cahlers at 3:03 PM on June 12, 2007

Chinatown bus lets you take a bike with you without any hassle, and since there are no stops (like Greyhound) you don't have to worry about it getting stolen. Bus->bike in another city is a magical thing for me.
posted by n9 at 4:14 PM on June 12, 2007

Mysterious third option:

$35 round trip, picks up outside penn station and drops off at mcpherson square and union station.
posted by sweetkid at 4:49 PM on June 12, 2007

I've taken both Vamoose and Washington Deluxe within the past week.

Vamoose picked up from Rosslyn (where I live) and Bethesda; most people got on at Bethesda. We rode two hours, stopped outside Dover at a highway rest area, then drove the rest of the way to New York. This was on a Sunday; I had a pair of seats to myself. They showed a movie (The Pursuit of Happyness? I don't really remember) and that was about it. We picked up two Hasidic Jews around 33rd and 10th, who collected the fares and gave us receipts. (Collect four and you get one free one-way trip.) We were dropped off outside Penn Station. The driver was Latino and didn't speak much English, but he was nice enough. It was $25 one-way -- worth it for me because I could walk to the pick-up point. It took about 4 1/2 hours.

Washington Deluxe picked up outside Penn Station; it was very full when I got on on a Tuesday afternoon, but I still managed to snag a pair of seats to myself. A rather impersonal woman came on to collect the money, and then we were off. We stopped at the same rest area in Delaware, and made it to DC after about five hours. (A woman was 15 minutes late getting back on the bus in Delaware so she could get her Starbucks coffee...) The bus stopped at Union Station (the driver wasn't technically supposed to, but he did it for a number of customers), at New Jersey & E Sts (just south of Union Station), and at the McPherson Square Metro at 15th & K. The driver was polite, professional, and kept us informed via the intercom. I think they showed Ocean's 12 once we left Delaware. The fare was $20 one-way.

I recommend both -- the experience can vary depending on traffic, how many other people are riding with you, where your seat is, and the time of day. These two bus services are run, allegedly, by Hasidic Jews, so they're not technically "Chinatown buses." I've ridden New Century before, and they were fine, but I agree with exogenous: choose based upon where you are and where you want to be dropped off in NYC.
posted by armage at 6:39 PM on June 12, 2007

Lots of experience with Greyhound back "in the day" but my most recent journey was with the Chinatown bus, which was late, and crowded, but arrived eventually. (And I'm pretty sure it was only $20, NYC to DC). Never heard of VaMoose, until now (and the fact that they show movies would NOT be a selling point, to me).
posted by Rash at 12:31 PM on June 13, 2007

washington deluxe all the way. gotta love famous tony.
posted by kneelconqueso at 9:22 PM on June 13, 2007

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