Chinatown Busses Now Offering WiFi, Guaranteed Seating

Chinatown busses, often the cheapest way to travel between Washington, New York, and Boston, are starting to outclass their established rivals by offering free WiFi service. One new entrant, Vamoose Bus, is even offering guaranteed seating – which can’t be found on Greyhound or any other Chinatown bus.

In contrast, the Chinatown buses sell their $15 one-way tickets to as many riders as are willing to buy them, regardless of the availability of seats. Greyhound, which shares buses and routes with Peter Pan Bus Lines, also oversells one-way tickets – for $35 if bought in person or $15 if purchased online. Ticket holders who don’t get on must wait for the next departure, which could be the next hour or the next day.

Lucky Star and Fung Wah did not return calls for comment yesterday afternoon.

Greyhound said yesterday it has been testing guaranteed seats this month for Boston-New York and Dallas-Houston customers who were willing to pay $5 more each way, but the bus company was still evaluating the program.

Guaranteed seating is nice, but the onboard wireless is underwhelming. A single 384 kbps connection is often shared between all 50+ passengers. When we tested DC2NY’s wireless offerings three weeks ago, we watched as one person (with fifteen minutes of battery power) tried to stream a full episode of The Hills, crippling the internet for all.

Vamoose Bus will begin ferrying internet addicts between New York and Boston as of November 8; for travel between New York and Washington, check out DC2NY.

NYC-Boston bus offers reservations [Boston Globe]
(Photo: thetbone)

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  1. RandomHookup says:

    Nothing beats the entertainment of Fung Wah. The chances of arriving safely can be pretty long. Great for thrill seeker travelers.

  2. gniterobot says:

    I’ve take sunshine travel and fung wah numerous times and I am always pleased.

    Everytime I ended up catching a bus different than the one I schedules, which was convenient for me.

    The ride is not as bad as people say and they’ve actually had a decent record considering the run like 40 times a day 7 days a week.

  3. chrisdag says:

    There is a Boston-NYC bus service that has had guaranteed reserved seats, beverage and food service, electrical outlets and free wifi for years. The Boston pickup/drop-off location is in the Back Bay and the NYC location is a largeHyatt hotel in Manhattan.

    Far, far more convenient for NYC-BOS business travel than the chinatown bus companies.

    The company is called limoliner.com – they go for business people who would normally fly or take the Acela train and they price accordingly. I think my last ticket was about $70 or so. Not price-competitive with the cheap outfits but they stack up well as an alternative to flying/Acela train.

  4. Adam291 says:

    I take the Vamoose bus between Bethesda, MD and NYC, and even as a former Amtrack rider, the internet will be totally new. However, the buses don’t have an outlet and with a 4-hour ride between Maryland and NYC, and another 4 hours from NYC to Boston, you better have a big battery. Still better than nothing though.

    Every 5th ride on Vamoose is free, too.

  5. BigNutty says:

    I ride greyhound in California and have never heard of or witnessed the availability of WiFi or electrical outlets, let alone guaranteed seating. It sure would make my trips easier and less boring.

  6. AvatarZ says:

    My wife went on DC2NY. she liked the bus a lot and although the net was slow – it existed and she was able to read the newspaper as she sat on the bus. A marked improvement over bad in ride movies.

  7. spinachdip says:

    Vamoose technically isn’t a Chinatown bus, since neither its operators (Hassidic) nor its termini (Midtown/suburban DC) are in Chinatown.

    While I *usually* don’t have a problem with actual Chinatown bus operators, I do think Vamoose is worth the extra $5 each way, what with its cleaner buses, less rowdy passengers and English-speaking drivers.

  8. aparsons says:

    I took Vamoose once – and while the buses are clean, they fill every damn seat on the bus. Which is fine, except I was stuck next to the fattest guy on the bus who kept asking me to get up when his cell phone rang (he was so large he couldn’t reach into his pocket while sitting down).

    But I think Vamoose is operated by Jews… I dont think they have service on Saturdays. I’d take Vamoose again though – especially with the buy-5-get-1-free deal.

  9. grizzman says:

    The Chinatown buses run South through Richmond to Atlanta as well: todaysbus.com

  10. bilge says:

    Added bonus of using a Chinatown bus service: illegal gambling machines in the bus terminals/ticket office.

  11. FMulder says:

    @chrisdag: I love Limoliner, I’ve taken it to Boston many times for work and refuse to travel on one of the chinatown buses.

    I like feeling safe and being comfortable.

  12. frankblevins says:

    I use Eastern Travel to get from Richmond, VA to DC a few times a month. A round trip is only $20 compared to Greyhound at $44.50. Richmond to NYC is only $65. Eastern bus terminals are little hole-in-the-walls but are located in convenient places. The buses are clean and staff polite.

  13. shaunirving says:

    Ironic this comes up today. I just spoke with a buddy who rode a C’Town bus back from NYC yesterday. He said the entertainment was a pirated RuPaul movie (complete with heads popping up in front of the theater screen).

    Kind of like your beverage service being a 2-liter of Sam’s Choice cola that gets passed around the bus…

  14. Jakebot says:

    I used to be a big fan of the chinatown bus between Boston and NYC, but then this happened: [www.boston.com]

    And this: [www.chinatown-bus.org]

    And this: [www.boston.com]

    Three big “uh-oh’s” will keep me away until they show some significant improvement. Besides, I found out you can get 2 for 1 tickets on Amtrak:
    [www.retailmenot.com]

    THAT’s traveling in style and comfort.

  15. spinachdip says:

    @jdempsey3: But you realize that’s all Fung Wah, right? Not to say that other Chinatown buses are perfect, but they don’t seem to pop up in the news nearly as often as the Wah.

  16. bluesunburn says:

    @chrisdag:

    You’re talking about LimoLiner. (www.limoliner.com)

    My wife and I went to NYC for my birthday and took Limoliner. It was probably the best bus trip I’ve taken in my life.

    They’re more expensive, but the extra comforts are a nice splurge every once in a while.

  17. Hey! I just got back from a trip on DC2NY!
    And yeah: wireless was kind of meh, but that’s kind of to be expected.

    Free water and a driver who seemed to care about what he was doing was nice though.