Bolt Bus Is Cool But WiFi Is Slow

I’m riding a Bolt Bus right now. It’s a good cheap way for a car-less person like myself to get from New York to DC for the holidays. A big selling point was the free onboard wifi. Hooray, I thought, I can blog from the road. But I’m finding the connection to be slow and spotty. Tried with both my computer and my gal’s. Scenery sure is nice, though.

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  1. Shadowman615 says:

    Supposedly there are plans in the making for a 3-hour express train service from DC-NY in years to come. That could even make a day trip out of it. Sounds exciting to me, here in the DC area.

    Let us know how everything turned out.

    • Yankees368 says:

      @Shadowman615

      I thought that was what Amtraks Acella Express was for. That train gets you in a whopping 20 minutes faster than the regular train. Amtrak FTL.

    • Mikestan says:

      @Shadowman615: But can it beat $35 round-trip?

    • 11hawkinst says:

      @Shadowman615: That’s why it’s nice to live in Philadelphia. It takes about an hour to get to NYC and about 1 1/2 hours to get to DC (via train of course). Although, I guess an express train would be nice, but there would have to be a stop in Philly. It kinda defeats the purpose of an express train, but still, we’re a pretty big city.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I’m on the Boltbus now, and the wifi is pretty good…you won’t be able to watch hulu or anything, but its rather sufficient.

  3. MissPeacock says:

    And just who, pray tell, will be taking care of Captain Duvel Moneycat while you’re away?

  4. punkrawka says:

    There are other similar buses as well… my wife and I recently used MegaBus, which is quite nice, and they have one pair of $1 seats per bus (first reservation gets them, and each pair of seats gets slightly more expensive). Round trip for 2 was $40, which is easily less money than gas + tolls for one car round trip, and definitely less hassle. We were pretty pleased with it overall.

    • CRSpartan01 says:

      @punkrawka: I’ve used MegaBus numerous times and it has been nothing short of an excellent experience. The buses are clean and new and the bus drivers are phenomenal.

  5. IamTCM says:

    Consumerist DC meetup @ Dan’s Cafe

  6. TVarmy says:

    On the plus side, slow internet makes me more productive as I’ll be more apt to do work. Don’t know what that means for a blogger, though…

  7. Mikestan says:

    Ben I feel your pain. I recently took a bolt bus to DC and was very excited about the free WiFI. We should have known better.

  8. HalLaius says:

    Hehe, I was stuck in traffic between Danbury and Waterbury one fine afternoon, and spent a few fruitless minutes trying to connect my iphone to the wifi on the bolt bus next to me.

  9. Anonymous says:

    I’ve taken the bolt bus from Boston to NYC with a lot of success using the wireless they had. A few in and out spots, but for the most part I had no issues and it made the trip fly by.

  10. Orv says:

    The way most of these systems work, you’re basically sharing a single cell phone uplink with all of the other WiFi users on the bus. They range from reasonably good to sub-dialup speeds depending on how many people are using the link and how good the local cell network is.

  11. BusyBusyBusyBusySleep says:

    Personally, I didn’t have many problems – I even remoted into work and the connection was pretty stable. Maybe some of the buses have older equipment than others. (Or you were on a bus full of bloggers! :-D)

  12. pete7919 says:

    I saw one of those on the way to NYC last week. Sitting in the front of the top of the double decker going down the Jersey Turnpike should cost extra as a “thrill” ride!

  13. loganmo says:

    Ben, it’s slow because there is a busload of people trying to use the internet from one lonely router. Go figure!

  14. kissinggames says:

    slow wi-fi notwithstanding, bolt bus is a million times better than the other cheap nyc-dc bus options, such as the washington deluxe. that pos broke down on me outside baltimore on one occasion, took three hours to get a replacement bus out there, and then forced us to watch the movie “phenomenon” when we were back on the road. i must’ve smoked an entire pack of cigarettes from stress on that bus ride

  15. Anonymous says:

    The 3G network is easily twice as fast. Comfortable bus though. We took it from DC > NYC and it was a great ride. And yes, great scenery.

  16. securingsincity says:

    I’ve taken the bolt from boston to nyc and back a bunch of times. I havent used the wireless myself but everyone i know who has loves it. it’s a great ride for cheap.

  17. SeanMike says:

    I’ve used it and I liked it. Yeah, it’s slow, but I didn’t have much trouble keeping up with e-mail and chat while on it.

    Can’t beat the BoltBus for price and not having to drive, especially with the wi-fi additional.

  18. TrustUs says:

    Yeah, trying to watch streaming TV video through the Bolt wifi was a little much, and I felt guilty about hogging everyone else’s bandwidth, but I sure like the idea. I suggested that all commuter methods should have wifi long ago. Some city-suburban buses are trying it.

  19. Elvisisdead says:

    Bolt, schmolt. Nothing will beat the chinatown bus that p[icks you up at the liquor store in DC for TWELVE DOLLARS. If you’re ghetto enough to get on the bus, embrace it!

  20. closed_account says:

    Blackberry Curve + Bluetooth laptop + Tmobile (and data plan) = Decent connection anywhere

  21. landr008 says:

    I use my Verizon card to connect on the dc to ny buses. When you get far from the cities though you lose 3g and it gets slow. I believe bolt uses a sprint connection. I sometimes use vamoose bus, but like bolt bc you can charge your gear.

    The Acela trains take 2h 45m from DC to NY and are great compared to flying. The regional trains take 3h 20m. You can show up 2 mins before they leave and can change times or get full refund for canceling. Much more expensive than a $25 bus ticket though.

  22. AvatarZ says:

    Yea, I was doing the other direction. It seems the connection cuts off in-between Baltimore and NJ turnpike exit 6 or so.

    But having done this commute many many times, bolt bus is way above all the rest – perhaps only DC2NY is better since they have tables in the back, but they cost a bit more.

  23. Blue387 says:

    I took the Boltbus back in July. I did an internet speed test and got 1041 kbs download and 423 kbs upload.

  24. crankymediaguy says:

    “Supposedly there are plans in the making for a 3-hour express train service from DC-NY in years to come.”

    Uh, the Metroliner, which has existed for decades now, makes that trip in a scheduled two hours and fifty-nine minutes.

    Or were you being sarcastic?

  25. BugNet says:

    On the DC-NY run, there is the Fung Wah, the Washington Deluxe, and others. I would be VERY interested in a review of these. The buses (of various operators) have been making this run from Chinatown to Chinatown for years. I don’t go to Boston, but I think they also make that run as well.

    I believe on the DC-NY run, some operators (some bus companies) stop in Philly and perhaps elsewhere. It can make for a long trip (6 to 8 hours vs. 4 or less by private car).

  26. RamV10: The Axeman Returneth says:

    You really don’t have a car?

    I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who didn’t own a car, and I lived in NYC for a year.

    My suggestion is to hire a driver, and buy that used Maybach 57 that Jalopnik posted yesterday…then you can ditch the bolt bus, and run a limo service the 350 or so days a year you’re walking.