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“Chinatown” Buses

After college, my wife took a job in New Jersey and spent a year living is Piscataway, a little town in Middlesex County that is thirty-five miles away from New York City. That put it about two and a half hours away from me, a quaint 180 miles through about every single highway bottleneck and toll between Washington D.C. and New York City. I once estimated that the round trip cost of each drive, after fuel and tolls, was easily like $60-70 and we each made this trip nearly every weekend (either me driving up to NJ or her driving down here). So, when put to the decision of whether I’d ever drive home, home being out about mid-way on Long Island, I always chose to fly Southwest from BWI to Islip (MacArthur Airport) and that ticket could be found for only $80 (not anymore though!)

Having that as a baseline, isn’t it amazing that Chinatown buses [3] sell tickets for practically nothing to essentially make that trip? DC/Baltimore to NYC for often less than twenty bucks each way? Some places offer them for less than ten if you take low demand rides (or even $1 if you’re the first ticket!). I’d always known about them but when Megabus started offering free Wi-Fi (reports are that it’s a little slow and depends on how many people are using the bandwidth with you), it really started to catch people’s attention.

The three most popular ones, based on my empirical evidence driving around I-95 and the NJ Turnpike, are:

I’m glad that their gaining in popularity because mass transportation is something that needs to be more established in this country. The first thought should always be to try rail or bus, rather than jumping into a car. I always try to find a rail or bus option because I like the flexibility of being able to do something else, rather than just drive.

Has anyone ever taken one and care to share their experiences? I’ve never tried them but they are really tempting given the price (and the trip time isn’t that much longer than driving yourself). My only concern about them is what happens if they break down?