The eternal question: New York via train or bus?
What's the best way to get between New York and Washington?
It depends how you define "best", of course. Just about everybody knows that the cheapest way to do it is via bus, but cheapest isn't always best.
For the extra price of an Amtrak ticket you get more seating space, nicer and bigger bathrooms, a faster ride (even on the slow train, never mind Acela), the ability to get up and walk around, and a cafe car. Buses these days are pretty nice, but they're not nearly as comfortable as Amtrak.
Just how much extra cash is that comfort worth?
It's usually about $20 one-way on a bus and $100 one-way on Amtrak's Northeast Regional train. For a round trip, that's a difference of $160. If you're traveling with a partner (as I usually am), then that's a round-trip two-person cost difference of $320. I like the cafe car, but not that much. For those prices, I'll take the bus every time.
It so happens that this weekend I'll be driving up to New York with family, but coming home alone and without a car. For that one-way, one-person trip, the cost difference between Amtrak ($100) and bus ($20) isn't as severe. It isn't negligible though. $80 still seems like too much, at least on my budget.
However, I'll be traveling fairly late at night, and Amtrak's night discount is bigger than Bolt's. The train I want is only $74, while the bus I want comes out to $23. That's a difference of only $51. That cafe car is looking a lot more attractive now.
After thinking about it a few minutes, I booked on Amtrak. Being able to walk around, use a nice restroom, and get food when I want was worth the extra $51 to me, but just barely. If the difference had been much more I don't think I could have justified it to myself. $30 difference: Done in a heartbeat. $60 difference: I'm not so sure.
What would you do? How much extra will you pay for the luxury of a train?
Cross-posted at BeyondDC.
- The Dutch government is trolling DC over marijuana, bike lanes, and streetcars
- 2.5 minutes of extra walking is not nothing
- How two families dealt with Metro problems and other transportation options in the snow
- Cities worldwide are building beautiful, landmark pedestrian and bicycle bridges. Could Georgetown be next?
- I can take the bus from my neighborhood to just about anywhere in DC
- DC like Amsterdam? We can only hope
- DCPS wants to focus on boys of color, but some say that's unfair and illegal