When I first arrived in Boston, my then-roommate was in a long-distance relationship with a New Yorker. They would alternate weekends so they could see each other, one of them taking a bus or train to the other's city. They got to know Boston's South Station and New York's Port Authority very well. And as this was the early aughts, they also spent a lot of money on bus fare.
Today, though, it's a very different story, as there are an abundance of low-cost buses serving Boston and New York.
It's too late for my (now-married, now-local) friends, but for those regularly (or sporadically) traveling to New York, it's never been cheaper to do so. The competition between the low-cost bus lines has made the fares really cheap, and the increased options for consumers have also led each bus company to step up their service, too. Book a bus ticket today, and you'll find buses that are clean, high-tech, and (dare I say it) pleasant.
And while I can't promise there won't be traffic, I can recommend the following lines as a good value if you're headed to New York from Boston.
I've always had a great experience on the BoltBus. Your ticket guarantees you a seat at your selected departure time, so there's no wondering whether you'll get bumped if there's a crowd of people who also want to travel at the same time as you. Each seat has a lot of legroom and a tray table to easily hold a laptop.
Additionally, every bus has wi-fi and individual seat outlets, so if you want to get work done, stream a movie, or goof around online, you can. A subsidiary of Greyhound, BoltBus has at least one seat available for $1 on every schedule (first-come, first-nabbed), and I've never paid more than $25 each way.
Pick-up/drop-off is at South Station in Boston and, depending on the schedule, 1st Ave between 38th and 39th streets or at the corner of W 33rd Street and 11th Avenue in midtown Manhattan.
2. Go Bus
If you're traveling from Cambridge or Newton, Go Bus offers service from either suburb to New York City. Cambridge pickup/drop-off is at the Alewife T station; Newton service is at the Riverside T station. New York City service is on 31st Street between 8th and 9th (outside of Penn Station). Each coach has Wi-fi and seat outlets, and when I compared fare prices it looked like tickets were capped at $30 each way.
"I found that Go Bus is a great choice during prime travel times and holidays if you are on a budget," says Lev Matskevich, revenue and marketing manager at Wanderu, an online travel search site that focuses exclusively on bus travel. "Their pricing does not fluctuate as much, so you can really get a great deal when everyone is hitting the road at the same time to reunite with family and friends. They do sell out, though, so it is always advisable to plan at least a little bit ahead."
Ok, so this one isn't exactly a budget option – but the LimoLiner is a great bus line to know about if you want to travel to New York in style.
Here's what you get on each ride: Leather seats, beverage service and a light meal, wi-fi, satellite TV and radio, magazines, and a pillow and blanket. If you're traveling in the evening, you'll also get a complimentary glass of wine. Fares are $89 each way, with travel from the Sheraton Boston Back Bay and the New York Hilton Midtown. Pickup/drop-offs can also be requested from Framingham.
4. Lucky Star
Of the much-beleaguered Chinatown buses, Lucky Star still remains. This no-frills option offers wi-fi enabled service from South Station to lower Manhattan (specifically 55-59 Chrystie Street, between Hester and Canal streets). Fares typically cost $20, $25, or $30 each way, and be sure to check both discount and full-price ticket options for your travel dates on the Lucky Star website – I sometimes found cheaper rates under the full-fare section compared to the discount prices.
The only double-decker bus option among the five companies listed here, MegaBus offers daily service to New York from South Station. Arrivals in New York are at 7th and 28th streets, but pickup is at 34th Street between 11th and 12th avenues (across from the Javits Center). In addition to offering a high-up view, Megabus seats have wi-fi and outlets. At press time, one-way tickets were capped at $30 (and they were the first bus line to offer $1 seats, available on a first-come, first-served basis).
Do you have a preferred way to travel between Boston and New York? Send me an email and share your recommendations!