Travel Between New York And Washington For $1 With BoltBus

BoltBus offers service between Washington D.C. and New York with fares starting at $1. Each ride comes not just with WiFi, but with power outlets at every seat—a luxury usually confined to Amtrak. The downside? (There are several.)

Only a handful of seats cost $1. Fares are capped at $20, which is still competitive with Greyhound and the Chinatown bus companies. From BoltBus’ FAQ:

Our fares will start @ $1 (plus a transaction or booking fee), with a minimum of one $1 fare available on every schedule we operate every day. The fares we charge will vary by day of week, overall passenger demand and how many days until the travel will take place. Typically someone who purchases a week or two out will receive the cheapest fares so it will save you money to plan ahead. Even our higher walkup fares will be reasonable and will allow for inexpensive spur of the moment travel.

Bus-based WiFi is nothing to cheer about. All passengers share a single measly mobile connection. We once tried posting while traveling with BoltBus rival DC2NY. It did not go well.

Finally, BoltBus is the bastard spawn of Greyhound and Peter Pan, two of the most universally reviled transportation companies. They do, however, have a loyalty program: four round-trips earns you a free one-way ticket, a $1 value!

Frequently Asked Questions [BoltBus]

Comments

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  1. evslin says:

    Our fares will start @ $1 (plus a transaction or booking fee)

    Is that like Ticketmaster’s fees where they tack on an extra $15?

  2. sir_eccles says:

    @evslin: They don’t just tack on that fee for fun, it is for your convenience!!!

  3. Walrii says:

    Assuming that those extra fees aren’t completely outrageous, it doesn’t sound like a bad deal to me.

    Compare that to the airlines: Buy 4 round round-trips and get your bonus miles canceled! Woo!

    Also, of course the wifi sucks. It’s rather difficult to maintain super low latencies and high bandwidth while traveling that far and that fast.

  4. Adam Hyland says:

    Yeah, wifi isn’t that big of a deal, the outlets are nice, though. there is a service like this between Milwaukee and Chicago, which I have only used once (the MEGABUS!!!…sorry, just sounds better with caps). The fares there ‘started’ at 2 dollars but changed with capacity, not lead time. so if the bus was full, your ticket cost less.

  5. jagorev says:

    I wish there was something better than Fung Wah for the NY – Boston route.

  6. “pay for the WiFi, stay for the ride”
    that should definiely be their new motto

  7. KJones says:

    No insult to the less well off, but if you’re riding the bus, why are you expecting luxury? And other than phones or PDAs, how would you use them with so little room?

    Besides that, who would want to take the bus for longer than the four hour trip? After about 200 miles, some cheap flights costs roughly the same as buses.

    As for pricing, I’d rather see a fixed price so I know what to expect, not a $1 dollar “fare” (read: gimmick) and a “processing fee”.

  8. SisterHavana says:

    @Adam Hyland: I love me some Megabus. I took it back from Memphis the other week – the day after they started service from there. We didn’t get one of the specially painted buses, but we did have a nice charter bus. And there were only two other people on it (a mom and a kid). Got me back in about the same time it would have taken me to drive there (we made one stop at a rest area). Total cost of my ticket: $1.50. : )

  9. DeafChick says:

    I’m loyal to Chinatown and Vamoose Buses. You are getting what you pay for.

  10. homerjay says:

    @jagorev: Oh now you’ve got a problem with being on fire while you travel?? Come on- you can’t have it all, buddy!

  11. @KJones: There’s a good market in buses for city-to-city hops that are not served by trains. Even if plane fares are cheap, you have to tack on all the extra “processing time” that plane trips require. If you’re traveling alone and won’t need a car when you arrive, driving can be a downer b/c it can be more expensive and you can’t work while driving.

    These are usually nicer charter busses. Lots of folks in college used to take the bus (usually called some airport name Express) from the local regional airport to a major airport, rather than flying the hopper, because it was faster, cheaper, and ran at far more convenient hours. And of course if you lived near major airport, you could take the bus and have the parents pick you up at the airport. I know people who take the college-student-oriented charter bus from Peoria to Chicago for a weekend of shopping, just because it avoids the hassle of parking or using the airport. Lets you off at O’Hare, take transit into town, very simple.

  12. The “transaction fee” is $0.50, for a total fare of $1.50.

  13. KJones says:

    @Eyebrows McGee: There’s a good market in buses for city-to-city hops that are not served by trains. Even if plane fares are cheap, you have to tack on all the extra “processing time” that plane trips require.

    […]

    These are usually nicer charter busses.

    They clean tables for you? ^_^ (A nag on your spelling.)

    But the buses you are referring to are of higher quality and charge more, not bottom-of-the-oil-barrel bus lines that have the lowest fares. You pay for Greyhound when there’s no other choice, not as a first choice.

    Most certainly I’d be willing to pay – and have paid – for a higher quality bus, but they are not available everywhere.

  14. chrisdag says:

    I use the [www.limoliner.com] bus service from Bos->NYC whenever I have business. It’s more expensive than the cheapo bus routes but lets me have a reserved seat, wifi, power etc. as well as more convenient drop-off locations.

    Way more convenient than flying that route.

    After doing the NYC-BOS run this week on an Amtrak regional train and then (return home) on the Acela Express I have to say that the LimoLiner Bus is the better experience. My return train was packed with last minute commuters who bailed on their flights at the first hint of possible rain in the forecast. Total nightmare.

  15. @KJones: Not everyone hwo uses the bus is “less fortunate”. I used to travel by bus between NYC, Boston and DC several times per week as part of my job. In the months after 9/11, a 45 min flight turned into a 3-4 hour ordeal. The bus was just faster and, in my mind, a safer way to travel then. An outlet and free wifi would have made the commute more productive.

  16. KJonesI have no problem with taking the Greyhound. Once, when there was an unacceptable spike in airfares between Arizona and Minnesota, I did the next best thing: hop on a bus for 40 hours.

    And who cares if they’re “less well off”? That’s just elitist.

  17. Scazza says:

    Can this bus wifi be used as a LAN? I can see some fun to be had playing some doom on a ride between the cities with a friend or 3. Might make such a cheap journey that much more fun.

  18. Walrii says:

    @Scazza: (Assuming your friends are all with you on the bus) You and your friends on the bus can just setup your own ad-hoc wifi network and play your games through that.

  19. weave says:

    For travel between NYC and DC the price spread is nuts with buses being very cheap and the train quite expensive. Price service between those two points and use some upscale buses and services. Use less seats too, like a 2-1 configuration.

  20. rjhiggins says:

    @KJones: Uh, how do you use a laptop on an airplane (which you’re proposing as an alternative)? The seating space is pretty comparable; in fact, some buses are actually roomier than many airplanes.

    You say, “After about 200 miles, some cheap flights costs roughly the same as buses.” Tell me next time you find a $20 flight.

  21. weave says:

    Hmm, from that FAQ on their site:

    We will accept cash, Visa, MasterCard, Discover, American Express, and Diners Club credit cards issued in the U.S. To conduct a credit card purchase you will need a picture ID. We can also accept debit cards but cannot accept money orders or travelers checks as a form of payment.

    Sucks to be a foreign tourist. Imagine going to Europe and not being able to use public transport there because you have an American credit card. (I like to carry minimal cash while oversees)

  22. ChuckECheese says:

    @Michael Belisle: I don’t think it’s really so much about being elitist as something else. It’s about this annoying yet common strain of opinion in America that claims that unless you pay top dollar, you don’t deserve decent accommodations or treatment. A comment that foreigners make about the U.S. is that private homes and accommodations are quite nice, but public services and facilities are the pits. It is unfortunate we have allowed this false economy to seep into our consciousness, because it cheapens us all. There’s no reason why all publicly used services cannot adhere to a reasonable standard of cleanliness, efficiency and respectful service. We’d all be a lot happier.

  23. homerjay says:

    @weave: Wait a minute, isn’t it a violation of credit card merchant agreement to require picture ID???? Hmmm…

  24. @ChuckECheese: You’re right about the “something else”. Maybe has something to do with the individualist or libertarian mindset, where a good segment of the population believes that everything should be “earned”, where “earned” is either “I was born into riches” or “I clawed my way out of the pits”.

    I’d like to see a new reality series called “Survivor: Los Angeles”, where they dump the contestants penniless on Skid Row. ( Actually, that’s almost a Mel Brooks screenplay.)

  25. Eh. WiFi, SchmiFi. Gimme my CD player, a few discs, & let me close my eyes. All I need.

    America needs to chill out for a minute.

  26. cookmefud says:

    “We once tried posting while traveling with BoltBus rival DC2NY. It did not go well.”

    so it’s a competitor’s wi-fi connection you’re talking about here?

    has anyone used this bus company’s wi-fi service that can verify their experience as being the same?

  27. PeanutButter says:

    @sir_eccles: don’t forget the lovely ‘traffic’ fee they charge in some places. even thought there is no one outside the venue directing traffic, and the stree isn’t’ blocked off.

  28. lihtox says:

    “Cheap” isn’t the only reason to choose the bus over flying; it’s also uses up less fuel, a consideration which becomes more relevant as time goes on. (I’ve been led to believe that flying uses less fuel than DRIVING, even though it is “public transportation”; I can’t cite any evidence.)

    That said, I took the Greyhound bus from Champaign to Chicago once, not knowing it was the tail-end of a long-term trip. Miserably crowded, and all the seats were tilted back with so little space between them that you didn’t get a choice in the matter. Never again.

  29. cuiusquemodi says:

    @Matthew Hughes: Or a 50% markup for the service fee :)

    Lies, damn lies, and statistics.

  30. bluewyvern says:

    I think I’ll give this a try. Although it is kind of fun to be assaulted by the Chinatown ticket ladies who shout “D.C.! D.C.!” while waving their tickets at your face and trying to physically shove you onto one of their buses (which they swear is leaving RIGHT NOW)…

  31. bluewyvern says:

    …Then again, maybe not. I just had a look at the site and checked the prices for one-way NY–>D.C. every Saturday through May, and most of them were $15, with some $10s and some $20s, and just a few $7s. A Chinatown round-trip ticket is $15, so unless you have some midweek travel planned many, many weeks in advance, it won’t make much sense.

    Unless you’re addicted to those Intarnets, I guess.

  32. bluewyvern says:

    Err, what I meant to say is that the *return* ticket is $15 if you get round-trip, for a total of $35. So a $15 Bolt ticket would be some savings, but a lot of hassle (advance reservation, ticket can’t be changed, you lose your seat if you’re not 5 mins early, you have to wait to board last if you don’t have your printout with you).

    I’ll probably be sticking with the Chinatown ladies.

    Sorry for the triple, going now…

  33. FMulder says:

    @ChuckECheese: You are absolutely right. That’s the big consumer flaw in America — so many people are willing to pay high prices just to have the ‘status’ of being being able to afford to pay high prices. Not just content to spend lots of a money on an overprice designer-stamped bag or article of clothing, people want every day items to be high-price so they can distinguish themselves from others who can’t pay that same price.

    And American companies know it, that’s how they can price ‘upward’ and consider it good for business.

  34. Gadgetgirl says:

    I have never heard of Boltbus (or DC2NY), but then again I’m on Long Island where Greyhound rules (for non Atlantic City trips that is) as far as long dis. bus travel is concerned. Boltbus sounds like a cool way to take a day trip to Philly or DC for lunch,walking around, etc…I might just give it a try with my youngster after school lets out.

  35. badtzmaru99 says:

    I’ve ridden DC2NY twice and the WiFi was extremely reliable. It even worked in the tunnels, where most phones can’t get a good signal.

  36. MyCokesBiggerThanYours says:

    @sir_eccles: Your comment has got to be the best comment ever on Consumerist.

  37. Balisong says:

    I remember the days when a bus was just this thing that got you from point A to point B. Now it’s “This wifi connection won’t let me ______!” Really, it’s not luxury travel – bring a cd/mp3 player and take a nap.

  38. IamTCM says:

    @badtzmaru99: DC2NY uses an 802.11g wireless router connecting to a mobile broadband card. The coverage is great in the entire bus, unfortunately the bandwidth is seriously limited.

    Next time your website takes 3 minutes to load you can safely blame the handful of people on Pandora.com.

  39. kittenwithawhip says:

    I took Boltbus on their opening weekend (bus down to DC Friday morning) return trip to NYC last night. Total cost of my trip: $2.50.

    I have been using various bus companies to and from DC at least once a month over the past year and Boltbus seems to be one of the cheaper options. Prior to Boltbus, I used Vamoose bus, which rewarded you with a free trip after your fourth ride. BoltBus is doing the same thing plus internet service and I get to and from NYC slightly faster. DC2NY was great but they only have one bus leaving from NYC during the week and it’s usually at 4:30PM.

    Chinatown buses serve their purpose but their seats are way too cramped for me and the buses are ALWAYS packed. I’d rather pay $20-25 round trip with BoltBus (Vamoose is $25 one way) than deal with the Chinatown bus again.

  40. bdgbill says:

    I don’t mind riding with people “less well off”. I do, however have a problem riding on a bus where 60% of the seats are filled with convicts fresh out of jail.

    My first and only experience with Greyhound included a middle of the night stop at or very close to a jail.

  41. jonworld says:

    Uh oh, this company probably creates their low prices by cutting down on safety, much like Fung-Wa Bus which offers cheap transport between Boston and New York. In the past few years, there’s been quite a large array of incidents involving Fung-Wa buses catching on fire, crashing into tollbooths, and the like, all of which were at least partially attributed to safety violations. AVOID CHEAP BUS LINES!

  42. mduser says:

    *makes notes* I have yet to experience one of these buses from DC to NYC and back. However, I have ridden Peter Pan from Waterbury, CT to NYC before, and it was not a bad ride at all. I’d ride this.

  43. ChuckECheese says:

    @Michael Belisle: You are correct sir. I am unworthy, and I deserve to ride on the dirty, small bus.