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.
Did you enjoy this article? Greater Greater Washington is running a reader drive to raise funds so we can keep editing and publishing great articles every day. Please help us be sustainable by making a monthly, yearly, or one-time contribution today!
- I-66 widening will happen soon whether it makes sense or not
- Modern Washingtonians have a mandate to remember black Georgetown
- Eckington is getting some much-needed retail
- How the Navy, baseball, and government planners made Capitol Riverfront one of DC's hottest neighborhoods
- More than 20% of people bicycle to work in some DC neighborhoods
- DC once had its own Arc de Triomphe
- Think you know Metro? It's whichWMATA week 77