fly or train DC to Boston

Old Apr 14th, 2009, 10:49 PM
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fly or train DC to Boston

I posted a question recently asking about a route to drive between DC and Boston. Now I will ask whether there is an advantage to either flying from DCA (staying near Dupont Circle) versus taking Acela Amtrak to Boston. We will be staying in the Back Bay. Would flying really save us time if we consider the airport time, transporting to and from airports, etc ? Thanks.
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Old Apr 14th, 2009, 11:15 PM
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Perhaps not the most economical, but I'd fly versus drive or take a train.
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Old Apr 15th, 2009, 01:08 AM
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It may depend on the weather; since we are not all-knowing in that area, I would probably opt for the train. If there is weather along the DC-Northeast corridor, expect flight delays. Once, I spent 3-hours on the tarmac just waiting to get off the ground on my flight to DCA.

There's an Amtrak Station-Stop at Boston's Back Bay. I have stayed at the Marriott there. You can get off there and walk to Boston Common.
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Old Apr 15th, 2009, 01:44 AM
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It is actually cheaper to fly than to take Acela - $87 from IAD and $109 from DCA one way using a random date I just entered on Amtrak.com and kayak.com. Regular Amtrak costs about the same, a little cheaper if you leave Washington at 3 AM.

Of course this does not take into account any added things you would have to pay for - transportation to/from airport, parking, etc.
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Old Apr 15th, 2009, 03:53 AM
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Flying is definitely faster as long as you use a nonstop flight. When my daughter was in college in DC, she frequently took AirTran from BWI to Boston. Even allowing for public ground transportation at both ends, the trip didn't consume the whole day, as the train would. In both cities, you can get from the airport to within a couple of blocks of most hotels via public transit for under $5.
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Old Apr 15th, 2009, 05:13 AM
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okoshi - I have to smile at the "Fodor culture" that you've tapped into. If you ask for a driving route, some people will inevitably tell you not to drive and suggest the train or bus. If you ask for train info, people will inevitably tell you not to take the train, that's it's much better to fly.

You already know that flying is - supposedly - quicker, point to point, than ground transport, but you also know that flying subjects you to hassles with delays re: traffic (this is the most congested corridor in the country) and weather, security, and getting to and from your lodging. Est. door-to-door here would be 4-5 hrs. on a good day - longer on a bad one. And you don't see a THING in between.

You already know that trains are subject to some delays, but much less so in this corridor; but at least you go downtown-to-downtown and you can look out the window. Est. time is more like 6.5-9 hrs.

No one's really going to make up your mind for you, although everyone will try to persuade you their way is best, and you have now posted in such a way that quicker-by-air is going to win. But not by much (an hour or two), and it's both a substantial gamble and a bigger hassle.

Sounds to me like you want to take the train. So do that. But IMHO it's a shame you've been talked out of driving.

Every post for information on Fodors is - itself - a trip!
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Old Apr 15th, 2009, 07:13 AM
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Fly.

For DC to NY or NY to Boston the train is about equal in time. but for DC to Boston the plane is way faster - even allowing for checking in/security etc.
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Old Apr 15th, 2009, 07:41 AM
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Don't fly. Take the train. You could end up sitting on the tarmack for hours or stuck in traffic trying to get into Boston from Logan, when you could be having a drink in the club bar or looking out the window at Long Island Sound. (Worth taking some interesting food from Union Station, though, rather than eating microwaved hotdogs on the train.)
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Old Apr 15th, 2009, 07:44 AM
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As I said . . . .
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Old Apr 15th, 2009, 09:29 AM
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HKP and all- I know the perils of posting these questions. The trick for me is to not become a "maximizer". I'm sure there are strong opinions about all these options- it is fun to hear what everybody offers, after all you are the experts !
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Old Apr 16th, 2009, 07:36 AM
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Thank you for allowing me to pick your brains. Will think about our options, and consider all your suggestions and advice.
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Old Apr 16th, 2009, 08:21 AM
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Trains are not immune to delays. The last time I trained from DC to New Haven CT, we were about 2 hours late--the engine cut out 4-5 times and we sat while they got it re-started. It happened the first time after we left NYC, so there was no option to get a new engine until we got to New Haven. Just another view.
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Old Apr 16th, 2009, 06:23 PM
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Some years ago, I took a train from Springfield, MA to Baltimore. Still on my "never again" list.

I also remember driving to MHT 20 minutes from my office and thinking I should have just planned on driving versus getting to the airport an hour and a half ahead, then a taxi from LGA to midtown. But, I chose to fly for very good reasons.

We often visit Baltimore and/or DC from southern NH. Driving and flying each have their own advantages and disadvantages.
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Old Apr 19th, 2009, 03:34 PM
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I just went through the same back-and-forth in my head for the same trip. Every time I drive I say never again, but then, every time I fly I end up delayed, or hating myself for having to either rent a car once I get to Boston or hop the T. Then, every time I take a train I hate that I'm trapped on the thing with a whole bunch of people of which the most unsavory find their way to sitting next to me for 8 hours, even though ultimately it is the most convenient. So, this time I'm renting a car and driving it. At least I have full control.
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Old Apr 19th, 2009, 04:22 PM
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What route do you take acswift ?
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Old Apr 20th, 2009, 05:56 PM
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I go 495 to 95 all the way up to 91. Not a scenic route at all but the most direct. I tried going through PA once and it took me 15 hours; the roads were full of truckers. Not a good time!
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Old Apr 20th, 2009, 09:45 PM
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How long does it take you ? Do you do it all in one day to get it over with ?
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Old Apr 21st, 2009, 03:07 AM
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How long the trip takes is really dependent on how traffic is. From DC if you take the Baltimore Washington parkway you misss big trucks. Take the eastern tunnel through Baltimore. When you get to the Delaware Memorial bridge, look to see if there is more traffic going up the NJ pike or on the parallel road that goes to PA. Get back on NJ pike before you get too far north (I think it is Cherry Hill where they are close together) don't go into Philadelphia. Listen to one of the news radio stations when you get near NY city and either continue on NJ pike to George Washington Bridge and up 95 to 91 to 84 to Mass pike(90). or on Garden State Parkway to Tappan Zee Bridge to 95 (New England Throughway) or follow signs to 84 to Mass Pike, depending on where traffic is slower. If you get a transponder so you can go through the "fast lane" also called "easy pass" you will have a much faster trip and they work at toll booths all along the east coast. If traffic is light when you hit the cities it should take about 7 -9 hours. Expect to hit some slow traffic some where along the route due to road work or accidents, even at night. Best of luck for a smooth ride.
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Old Apr 21st, 2009, 04:36 AM
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I have done the Baltimore - Hartford drive a few times now and have always taken the Garden State to the Tappan Zee Bridge to 84. It is usually around 5 hours (including a rest stop). Add in the extra 1.5 hours to get to Boston. Its not a bad drive if you do it at the right time. I left Baltimore at 5 pm last year on a Sunday and was home at 11 (extra time was dropping the rental car off).

I do second the idea of getting an Easy Pass.
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Old Apr 21st, 2009, 08:55 AM
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Usually 8 hours, I leave around 4PM and stop in Stamford overnight, so I get there early the next day. I like to be leisuely about driving....
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