Megabus vs. Boltbus
June 24, 2008 6:48 PM   Subscribe

I'm traveling to New York from D.C. soon. Megabus? Boltbus? Your experiences?

In a few weeks I'll be traveling to D.C., and while I'm there I'm planning on spending a day or two in NYC visiting some friends. I've looked at prices for both Boltbus and Megabus and both appear to offer round-trip for less than $40 (significantly less, in some cases). I would probably want to leave early on a Thursday morning (in between 6 and 7) and return late Friday evening ( between 6 and 7). I have a few questions, though:

I've read mixed reviews on the internet about the two services. Are they really too good to be true? I can handle my bus being a bit late, but is it likely to be significantly late / delayed (I hear the New Jersey Turnpike can be a bit difficult at times). Would it be crowded at those times of the day?

If you've rode either service and had a good / bad experience, let me know.
posted by elisabethjw to Travel & Transportation (11 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Megabus in England and the Midwest is fast, friendly, free of sleaze, and efficient, though their West Coast services have been scaled back due to low ridership. I assume that they build traffic jams into the times, and if you're headed out of NYC in the morning and back in the evening, you should be fine. Haven't tried Boltbus.
posted by mdonley at 6:58 PM on June 24, 2008

From New York to Boston:

My boltbus arrived AN HOUR late in New York. I was pretty displeased with that. I spoke with the driver that was waiting; it seems like the boltbus schedule does not account at all for traffic. Once I was on the bus, however, I was very comfortable. The seats are definitely roomy and clean but the wi-fi was mediocre to poor.

From Boston to New York:

The boltbus arrived early and we left exactly on schedule. Once again, the bus was clean, and this time, the wi-fi was mediocre to excellent the entire way. The bathroom was also very clean.

Conclusion: I would take it again just because it's so much more comfortable than your average Chinatown bus. Your mileage may definitely vary though.
posted by pinksoftsoap at 7:05 PM on June 24, 2008

I don't know if Boltbus is still listing their schedules as being 4 hours between NYC and DC rather than 4.5 like everywhere else says... but it definitely takes 4.5 hours (not counting extra delays) so factor that in. If you have a laptop, using their free wireless (and electrical outlets) on board is awesome.
posted by EmilyClimbs at 7:07 PM on June 24, 2008

I've taken Boltbus between DC and NYC twice this month and was very happy with it - travel time was just about 4 hours on each leg, boarding was quick and civilized, and the buses were clean and comfortable.
posted by ryanshepard at 8:03 PM on June 24, 2008

My girlfriend and I left DC once at 3 AM, were two out of the three people on the bus, and it got to NYC right on time. No complaints.
posted by milestogo at 8:29 PM on June 24, 2008

I took the Megabus from Toronto to NYC. The trouble was at the NYC ends of both legs; I arrived about half an hour late in NYC (7:30am on a Thursday—our bus driver took a wrong turn on the NJ Turnpike and ended up at the entrance to a parking lot just off the Lincoln Tunnel). My bus back to Toronto was supposed to leave at 9pm three days later on a Saturday, and both my bus and the Philadelphia bus leaving at the same time were late by forty minutes (again, the Turnpike). Strangely, the one to Boston leaving at 9:30pm arrived with an hour to spare.

As for the bus itself, it's your standard coach bus, though I've heard cleaner and nicer than the usual American bus (I guess us Canadians are spoiled?). Wifi was a nice touch, though I'd gladly trade it for seats I could sleep in comfortably for eight hours. Basically, it's a good service, but try not to schedule anything too close to the arrival times.
posted by chrominance at 8:46 PM on June 24, 2008

I don't know how they are doing now, but my girlfriend and I used to take Vamoose between NYC and DC to visit each other every weekend. They were the best at the time (~ 2 years ago).
posted by o0dano0o at 6:34 AM on June 25, 2008

When I took Bolt from NY to DC (on a Friday evening), the bus arrived 90 minutes late. Since they depart from a street corner across from Penn Station, this was waiting outside on a corner for 90 minutes. No issues with the bus itself, though.

You'll be dealing with traffic around both cities, so the further from rush hour you travel, the more likely the time of travel will be closer to the schedule.
posted by andrewraff at 8:56 AM on June 25, 2008

I've taken the Boltbus a few times from DC to NY and back - on one trip, the wireless was completely broken and there was no internet for the entire ride. However, the buses are usually only partially full and they have nice leather seats that make for a comfortable ride.

Do you need to be back by any particular time on Friday night? I took that route once and was delayed a bit by some major traffic down in Tribeca but was only about a half hour late.
posted by amicamentis at 9:58 AM on June 25, 2008

Boltbus from NYC to Boston, on a Wednesday around 7am: The bus was about 30 minutes late, but that was the only hiccup in an otherwise pleasant trip. Clean, spanking new and almost-empty bus, comfortable seats, working wi-fi, and a very affable bus driver. Arrived nearly an hour after the scheduled time.

You should be able to expect a comfortable ride on the Boltbus. Extremely good value if your schedule isn't too tight.
posted by hellopanda at 10:26 AM on June 25, 2008

Took Boltbus from NY (Tick Tock stop) to Philadelphia. The ride from NY to Philadelphia was rather confusing, because when I got to the pick-up place there were 4 buses. We got on the bus 10 minutes prior. Once the bus driver got on, closed the door and started getting buckled a girl ran up and knocked on the door to get in- the bus driver wouldn't open the door saying "You need to arrive at least 5 min before" then we drove off. I suggest 15 min to be safe. The bus left on time and arrived on time.

For the Philadelphia to NY ride, it was 30 min late but for some reason we arrived exactly as scheduled. Buses are comfortable, clean, and free wifi is always good.
posted by Jimmie at 8:32 AM on June 28, 2008

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