Bus travel between NYC and Boston

Old Aug 20th, 2007, 08:42 AM
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Bus travel between NYC and Boston

Which is the best bus company to use for this route, considering price, reliability and safety? Are any of the Chinatown companies worthwhile? This is for a student on a budget, but I don't want my daughter to use a company with a bad track record.
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Old Aug 20th, 2007, 08:55 AM
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Greyhound is really cheap (like less than $20 bucks each way), and there is a significantly reduced chance that the bus will burst into flames on I95. The small premium over the Chinatown bus is worth it in terms of the convenience of location (Penn Station vs. Chinatown) and the safety (bad drivers and poorly maintained buses).
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Old Aug 20th, 2007, 09:32 AM
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Chinatown bus companies were being investigated by the city for driver violations in relation to a couple of accidents. Don;t know what became of it - it may still be going on.

If you can get Greyhound for anything near a reasonable price I would do that instead. (Well, frankly I would take the train - much more comfy - but you didn;t ask about that option - and it is more $).
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Old Aug 20th, 2007, 10:05 AM
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We've used the train on a few occasions when we were going to Boston looking at schools. They may be more comfortable, but they certainly weren't the most reliable. Every trip we took had significant delays, and on most cases were packed. we had trouble finding 2 adjacent seats on 1 or 2 of the trips.

She can take the train for the heavy traffic travel times like Thanksgiving, but if she wants to come home on in-between weekends, I'd prefer the more economical route. Naturally safety and reliability are very important too, so I'm not looking for the cheapest, just the best value.

It's looking lake the 'name' bus lines are the best. I know people who have used various CHinatown companies. Some said they were perfectly fine, other felt differently. As far as arriving or leaving from CHinatown, that's not a problem. We live in lower Manhattan.
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Old Aug 20th, 2007, 10:20 AM
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Some of the "Chinatown" buses actually leave NYC from midtown nowadays, and in Boston at least one (Fung Wah) uses the main bus terminal at South Station.

They do have a trerrible safety record and I would prefer that my own kid take one of the recognized companies like Greyhound, which has had to respond with competitive prices.
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Old Aug 20th, 2007, 10:30 AM
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MFNYC, the trains are as unreliable as you say - and unfortunately are *worse* on the major holidays, especially Thanksgiving!

After being stuck on one last spring that was 1 1/2 hours late, I've taken the advice of the college student who was sitting next to me and always pad my time, knowing the train will be late. (I missed a friend's kids' confirmation ceremony because of that delay. The student rode the train so frequently that she knew the deal!) Somehow, Amtrak and the local trains (NJ Transit, Metro North, etc.) haven't figured out how to share the rails without delays...

As for buses, look into Peter Pan and Bonanza; they're usually a few dollars cheaper than Greyhound, are name-brand and reliable.
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Old Aug 20th, 2007, 10:47 AM
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My concern with the bus on a major holidays would be heavy traffic. I remember driving back to college on the NYS thruway after Thanksgiving, and it barely moved. Even with delays, I have to believe that the train, can't be as bad as a bus in heavy traffic. But on a non-holiday weekend, I'm hoping the buses will run fairly well.
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Old Aug 20th, 2007, 11:08 AM
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I have to say that I haven't taken a train at Thanksgiving ever since I was able to afford a different option (like taking a longer vacation and thus not dealing with it!). But the issue is that even on "all-reserved" trains, they oversell and you're very likely to be standing a good part of the way, even from a terminal city like Boston. (And if you get a seat, there's probably someone standing over you!) With the large volume of people getting on and off at each stop, the train is inevitably delayed.

I think the trick, whether by road or rail, is to find a time when there are less people travelling: early Thursday morning, for example (as sad as that is), and even late on Sunday night. (I'm in grad school now and happily just realized thanks to this post that by having no classes on Mondays, I can return from Thanksgiving at my mother's in MA a day after everyone else! Maybe your daughter will be able to do that, too?)

Or maybe your daughter will do what I did, and find a friend with a car who's going the same direction. That worked wonders for me for four years from the Boston suburbs to school in upstate NY.
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Old Aug 20th, 2007, 12:28 PM
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If you are speaking of travel between NYC and Boston at Thanksgiving - there is no way to avoid annoyance and delay. Roads are packed, trains are slow and packed. So bus or ride with friend - still use roadways. With the train at least you know you will likely be only delayed, not stuck for hours in traffic.

I have a friend whose teenagers use Fung Wah several times/year and rave about it - but I also keep seeing news stories about drivers being arrested, buses failing inspection, catching on fire on Mass Pike. I would not put my kid on one to save money.

Then there is flying. Time consuming, airports at Thanksgiving are also packed. But for that one time of the year when everyone travels at the same time, I might deal with the expense and fly her. Other vacations/trips home do not have the concentration of Thanksgiving travelers, so a ride, bus, train would work.
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Old Aug 20th, 2007, 01:58 PM
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My daughter has taken bus & trains many times from Boston to various cities, including the Thanksgiving NYC pilgrimage each year. she prefers the Greyhound as she can usually get one for only about $5-10 more than the Chinatown bus. She says Greyhound has good schedules and their buses are nicer, not to mention the safety issues. She says that Fung Wah is considered the worst of the CT buses.

She's taken the train too, but it is a LOT more expensive for a frugal college kid, and not really any faster.
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Old Aug 20th, 2007, 02:05 PM
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I have nothing pro or against Greyhound, but I wonder what their safety record really is. My son has used Fung Wah several times in and out without any problem, does it prove that FW is 100% reliable ? And if I hear from a neighbor that his Greyhound bus blew a tyre last week, does it mean that " I have heard that Greyhound buses blow tyres regularly" ?
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Old Aug 20th, 2007, 04:18 PM
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pabcdc- on Boston area local news there have been at least 3 stories I remember in past year indicating safety hazards/accidents/fires on Fung Wah buses.

Owner contends that media is persecuting him. So either both bus lines have the same quantity of issues and medis is picking on Fung Wah (I do admit, a possibility) or they have a worse safety record than Greyhound.
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Old Aug 22nd, 2007, 06:58 AM
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Thanks for the great advice. As soon as my D finds out exactly what her eschedule will be, I'll have her reserve tickets for thanksgiving transportation home, probably by train. She'll be near the back bay station, which I know is the 2nd Boston stop for the Amtrak to NYC. WOuld she be better off going to the south station, in order to have a better chance to get a seat. How far is that station from the back bay area?

Hopefully on non-holiday weekends (if she wants to come home), she can just wing it and take the greyhound bus.
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Old Aug 22nd, 2007, 07:06 AM
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On March 18, 2005, a Boston-bound Chinatown bus operated by Lucky Star/Travel Pack stopped and evacuated its passengers on the Massachusetts Turnpike shortly before bursting into flames. No one was injured.

On August 16, 2005, a New York-bound Fung Wah bus caught fire on Interstate 91 near Meriden, Connecticut. Though the passengers later criticized the driver for being unhelpful and untrained in evacuating the bus, all passengers were eventually evacuated and no injuries were reported.

On January 20, 2006, a surprise inspection on Forsyth Street in New York's Chinatown resulted in two Washington-bound buses being pulled temporarily out of service and a driver running away from authorities

On August 15, 2006, a Shun Fa bus travelling from New York to Pittsburgh crashed; 10 passengers were injured, with 5 requiring hospitalization. One person was in critical condition.

On September 6, 2006, a Fung Wah bus rolled over in Auburn, Massachusetts, and caused minor injuries to 34 passengers. Excessive speed was cited as a factor and the bus company was fined.

On January 3, 2007, a Fung Wah bus lost its back two wheels in Framingham, Massachusetts, early on a trip to New York. No injuries were reported.

On February 14, 2007, a Fung Wah bus en route to New York lost control and hit a guardrail on the Massachusetts Turnpike (I-90) in Allston, Massachusetts. No injuries were reported. State officials had advised Fung Wah to suspend operations because of the winter storms that day

On February 18, 2007, a bus (owned by Tremblay Motorcoach) operated by Sunshine Travel caught fire on the Massachusetts Turnpike near interchange 10A in Millbury, Massachusetts. All 50 passengers were evacuated and no injuries were reported. The cause of the fire is unknown. The bus was returning to the Chinatown in Boston from Mohegan Sun casino in Uncasville, Connecticut.

On March 23, 2007, a New York-bound Fung Wah bus from Boston got stuck on a concrete barrier in front of a tollbooth on the Massachusetts Turnpike at Route 128 in Weston, Massachusetts, when the bus drove up on a cement lane divider. The driver had entered an automobile-only lane and tried to change lanes. No one was injured in the incident, but the bus was taken out of service and passengers boarded another Fung Wah bus that arrived later
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Old Aug 22nd, 2007, 07:24 AM
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" ... WOuld she be better off going to the south station, in order to have a better chance to get a seat. How far is that station from the back bay area?"

Yes, there are occasions when there are no seats available when the train leaves South Station, although I do believe that the "reserved" trains do live up to their promise to provide everybody a seat.

South Station and Back Bay Station are both in downtown Boston and are served by the subway lines as well as by trains (Amtrak and the commuter rail), though not by the same subway line, so there would be a transfer as well as just a few stops.

The regular bus lines (Greyhound, Bonanza, Peter Pan) have much better safety records than the Chinatown buses, though the aren't flawless either.
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Old Aug 22nd, 2007, 08:50 AM
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when I was a college student going back and forth between Philadelphia and NYC, the school used to run a bus just for students. It was cheap, and it didn't make any extra stops, just went from campus to Penn Station. has your daughter looked at this?

Also, my niece, who is a college student now, got a good price on train tix on Amtrak through some student organization. Perhaps your daughter can find a discount, making the train a better choice?
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Old Aug 22nd, 2007, 08:56 AM
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An all-reserved train is no longer a guarantee of getting a seat, since there is no longer any such thing as an unreserved seat or train. Also, Amtrak considers cramming into the cafe car to be "a seat" and thus always overbook the popular trains.

MFNYC, depending on the day and time, your daughter will do well to go over to South Station for a better chance at a seat. The ticket costs the same, so she can make the decision as she sees fit. Also, I'm sure by that point she'll be well used to riding the T and transferring between lines!

Every time I have to wait to board an Amtrak train, I again wish that we had a system like the European ones, where you can reserve an actual numbered seat ahead of time! It's quite nervewracking hovering by the departures board, waiting for the track number to be posted so you can rush to the platform in the hopes of getting a seat... Though I'll say that it's less stressful in Boston's South Station than NYC (natural lighting, nice seating in the waiting area, and it's the terminus so the train is empty when it starts to board unlike in NYC). Back Bay station is much more like Penn!

BTW, the buses leave from South Station, too, at the opposite end of the building from the trains.
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Old Aug 22nd, 2007, 10:45 AM
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If you are looking for a very comfortable and safe alternative that isn't as expensive as the train, look at Limo Liner. It's $79 each way and has such added features as Wi-Fi service and TV. The only limitation is that it doesn't have good service on weekends as it's aimed primarily at business travelers, but it's a great service and leaves from the NY Hilton in Midtown and goes to (I believe) Back Bay in Boston in about 4 hours.
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Old Aug 22nd, 2007, 10:53 AM
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Doug, is that per person? (And does one tip the driver?) That does sound like a good alternative, especially when a standard Amtrak ticket NYP-PVD is $83 one way!
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Old Aug 22nd, 2007, 11:33 AM
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The price for limoliner is per person. I've taken it and it's very nice. You don't tip the driver, it's a bus.
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