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going from NYC to Boston for 3 days..Drive, train or bus?

going from NYC to Boston for 3 days..Drive, train or bus?

Old Feb 25th, 2006, 02:25 PM
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going from NYC to Boston for 3 days..Drive, train or bus?

Husband & I want to visit daughters in late April. WE will be flying into NYC and visiting one of them (at Columbia) for a few days, then all three of us will go to Boston on a Friday morning and return Sunday afternoon.

We definitely don't want a car in NYC, and don't need it in Boston either, but do have a place to park it at BU.

I'm thinking it might be some nice together time with NYC daughter on the trip, but would a train be easier? Comfort (both physical and mental), scenic possibilities, and schedule will be the most important factors here.

If driving is the best option, anyone know of a major car rental company on the UWS?

lcuy is offline  
Old Feb 25th, 2006, 02:58 PM
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I enjoy the train.
Friday and Sunday are the most expensive for Amtrak and the loudest and most crowded. If you go on the train get to the station early to try and make sure you can sit together. I would avaoid a car in Boston also.
TKT is offline  
Old Feb 25th, 2006, 03:05 PM
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just had to share this bus service from NY to Boston. I haven't tried it yet, but I have it on reserve. http://www.limoliner.com/
Marge is offline  
Old Feb 25th, 2006, 03:38 PM
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I took the limo liner bus a few months ago and it was fantastic. Much better than the train I thought.
wyatt92 is offline  
Old Feb 25th, 2006, 04:43 PM
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For three people renting a car is probably the least expensive - except for the Chinatown bus. It is also the fastest (trains are slow and often late and even though the flight is only 45 minutes to/fo airports and security can make it interminable).

The drive can be a nice one in the spring - and the scenery is mostly pretty - if you enjoy driving.

All of the majors have offices on the upper west side - there's a cluster of them on 76/77th between Broadway and Amsterdam with good opening hours - usualy 6am to 10 or 11pm. Just check which one gives you the best deal based on your memberships/other affiliations.

(From those offices you can just take 79th street over to jump on the West Side Highway - and it's all parkways/highways from there.)
nytraveler is offline  
Old Feb 25th, 2006, 04:59 PM
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Oh I hope she is loving BU (fellow BU grad here, but the date was loooong ago).

My opinion is you don't need a car in either city and it will only remain parked somewhere, which would aggravate me to pay for a rental and have it sit there - and why get caught behind the wheel in a traffic jam, etc if you don't have to - when I do the drive, if traffic is bad or construction on the Merritt, I can switch to 95 or vice versa, or know some ways to skirt around - likely you wouldn't and that might frustrate you as traffic depending on time, commuters, construction, can be a drag.

If you decide to drive b/c you want to stop somewhere along the way that is another thing - if you are inclined to go 95 and stop at say Mystic Seaport, etc. - but if you do decide to drive I prefer the Merritt route b/c no trucks are allowed, it's a lovely stretch of road, and convenient on/off rest stops/coffee all along the way.

My daughter now lives in NYC. I alternate between driving and Amtrak. I would say enjoy your daughter on either the train or the limoliner bus mentioned - I haven't done the latter but friends have and say only good things about it -

You would have to check out both web sites and choose, see schedules and prices. Bus is cheaper than Amtrak on a wknd I believe. Amtrak has regional service and the Acela (faster and not all the stops) but it has it's price.

I like to splurge on occasion for first class on the Acela, but you pay for that - but the car is lovely, the food and drinks excellent and included, as it should be for the price. If you go this option, you also can wait for your train in the first class lounge at Penn Station, and are brought to the track before the train arrives and the bell cap sets your luggage for you on the spot the train car will be at. They know who is coming into the first class train and the attendants are very good about seating groups together in 2's or 4's or if you want singles across from each other, etc.

Otherwise, Amtrak also has business class, and a quiet car, which is nice - for soft talking and no loud cell phones or commotion. You just have to be on the track waiting and get to that car before it fills up. There is food available (simple, fast) and drinks in a food car you can walk to.

As far as "scenic" - I don't consider the Amtrak NYC-Boston run particularly scenic - there are some spots where you see the coast, and some nice spots, but not enough for that to be your reason to choose it in my opinion.

The only thing about the bus is, it can be a victim of traffic whereas the train isn't.

So check out the prices, if you feel like a splurge, I think the Acela and first class is a real treat, but from what friends say I don't think you could go wrong with this or Limoliner, which they say is very similar.
escargot is offline  
Old Feb 25th, 2006, 04:59 PM
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of course, trains can be delayed too, and I know this happens, but I guess I've always been lucky and it's been on time or early.
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Old Feb 25th, 2006, 05:24 PM
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I definitely would drive -- it has all the advantages in every category: physical and mental comfort, flexibility of route and schedule, and even cost since there are 3 of you. Your Boston-based daughter might appreciate access to a car over the weekend for shopping or field trips out of the city.

If you're talking about the weekend of April 21-23, keep in mind that this is the end of spring vacation for most Boston-area public schools, so there are more local travelers than usual.
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Old Feb 26th, 2006, 07:22 PM
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As someone who has made the trip from NY to Boston many, many times,I would recommend driving. I agree there are the advantages of flexibility and cost, and can get you to some areas faster than the T within Boston and Cambridge. Amtrak is expensive, slow, and if you are traveling Easter weekend, will be very crowded (think standing room only). If you do take the train, I'd take a cab from South Station to BU- the T is not very comfortable with luggage.
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Old Feb 26th, 2006, 09:51 PM
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There are a lot of cheap airfares between the two as well. Check out the different airline choices on

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Old Feb 27th, 2006, 03:30 AM
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Since the OP said "late April" and Easter is April 16, they are probably not traveling on Easter weekend.

If you take the train, get off at Back Bay station rather than South Station, since it's much closer to BU and much handier, whether you're finishing the trip by cab or T.

The notion of flying from NYC to Boston is just laughable -- it's the most inconvenient and time-consuming of all the options; that's why the OP didn't mention it.
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Old Feb 27th, 2006, 04:57 AM
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Going downtown to downtown (NY to Boston) I would take train.

Public school vacation week is week of April 16th in Massachusetts - as well as Easter and Passover week - so trains might be fuller than usual. Keep that in mind.
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Old Feb 27th, 2006, 06:28 AM
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Lcuy I just realized this was you - you were helpful on some India ?'s regarding my sons study abroad - I have to check and see if your most recent trip report is up (weren't you planning on going to see your daughter there?)

I really hate to see you drive - but that's me - it really depends on many questions: do you like to drive? or will your husband and enjoy that? or daughter drive? Whoever the driver is, do they or the passengers mind being possibly stuck in traffic for hours? Will they go with the flow and not let it tick them off? Are you a greap 'map reader' and if so, would jump off and avoid tie ups, constructions, traffic by using an alternate route? and of course, your personal budget matters for you,

Depending on your answers to these questions would determine, to me, if you should drive.

I alternate frequently between driving and Amtrak, but I drive on the days and hours I choose and with no shedule at all for arrival. My best time from 30 min south of Boston to the city is 3 hrs. 40 min. door to door, it usually is more like 4 hrs.; and that is driving a minimum of 75 and up to low 80's.

I've also had it take me anywhere from 5 to 6 1/2 hours. Last time down, we drove on a Friday morning leaving Boston at 10am, we got to the city at 3:30pm. go figure. construction. two accidents. and then the general Friday traffic that starts around 2:30 when kids gets out of school.

My sister, niece, and daughter all live in the city.
As they would all say, - if money were no object I'd always take the train.

Flying: don't bother. have to be there at least 30 min prior, factor in time and cost to get to Logan, time and cost to get from nyc airport to city, and you have to allow 4 hours to be safe.

Train: the web tells you the schedule, - could you be delayed? sure. but your chances are better of being delayed while driving.

Bus/Limoliner: same as train, but could get stuck in traffic so that's a factor.

Driving: From 3.45 hrs to 6 hrs, who knows. I fyou don't mind not knowing, and you can stop depending on the route you go, at Sturbridge, Mystic, Outlet Malls, etc then drive. In my opinion, the scenery is no better here than training it -

it's just not that outstanding a scenic drive from nyc to boston - by car or train
escargot is offline  
Old Feb 27th, 2006, 09:13 AM
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I fly to Boston, it's not a big hassle.

JetBlue has some very cheap fares. The flight time is 1/2 hour. Boston public transportation goes right to the Airport.

The reality is:

1. It takes about 45 mins- 1 hour to get to JFK airport via LIRR and AirTrain.

2. Add in another hour before you board the plane.

3. Flight time is less than 1 hour, usually close to 1/2 hour.

4. Both the Blue Line and the Silver Line "T" go to/from Logan. You will be in Downtown Boston less than 1 hour after touching down.

TOTAL TIME: 3.5 hours.

The fastest I have ever seen anyone Drive to Boston is about 3.5 hours.

After 3.5 hours, the train is still approaching Providence.

If you really want to splurge you can fly the more expensive Delta or USAir Shuttles out of LaGuardia, they run every 1/2 hour.

When I go to Boston, I fly. It's not laughable. It's the method that gives me the MOST TIME IN BOSTON.

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Old Feb 27th, 2006, 09:43 AM
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That's a lot of transfers!
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Old Feb 27th, 2006, 11:48 AM
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Drive time upper west side (where these people are coming from) to Boston is about 3.5 hours including a gas/potty stop. (I've done it in 3:15 - but then I tend to fly low.)

One of the things I like about it - vs train or lane - is that you control your own fate - if there's traffic or an accident you can take an alternate route - or even stop and get a meal or check out a cute town. You don;t get stuck in ice/fog (one long delay and one unintended overnight at Logan) or delayed on Amtrak for who knows what reason this time,
nytraveler is offline  
Old Feb 27th, 2006, 01:44 PM
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Thanks everyone...lots of food for thought here..

Since it doesn't seem to make a whole lot of difference scenery or time wise, we are now leaning towards driving. (I REALLY hate flying-which makes living in Hawaii hard..)and my husband actually likes driving.

What is really promting the car though, is the daughter who'll be coming up to Boston with us. She says she's tired of always "travelling with people" and would like us to be able to meander.

So thanks for the input. Now... which route??

I see you recommend the Merritt route escargot (Go BU!! My daughter LOVES is there. We'll be watching her in a crew race and then attending her Hawaii club luau. What did your son decide to do? I had a wonderful 2nd trip to India in December. Want so much to go again!).

I like the idea of no trucks, but don't see it listed on my (junk) map.

We really have no time restraints. We'll leave Columbia on Friday, 4/21, in the morning (8:30 ish. Is that good?) and want to get to BU by about 4 pm. On Sunday, we'll problably leave mid-day, and hope to get into NYC by dark.

Thanks again for any sugesstions. I'm stopping by AAA later today for a real map, but would love to know your favorite routes, and detours just in case.
lcuy is offline  
Old Feb 27th, 2006, 01:52 PM
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The "Parkways" in NY and CT have have no big rigs. They all have low bridge clearances and short merging area.

The Merritt is fine, but most of the route is 2-lane in each direction. With fairly frequent on- and off-ramps (again very very short ramps), AND the curves, it's hard to go very fast. I drive very fast, and therefore usually stick with I-95.


Anyways, I've read followed this thread since it started, but haven't jumped in because I think all methods are valid (driving, train, plane, bus); and each have their advantages and disadvantages. That's why you'll see people doing and recommending each.
rkkwan is offline  
Old Feb 27th, 2006, 02:40 PM
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Thanks again for any sugesstions. I'm stopping by AAA later today for a real map, but would love to know your favorite routes, and detours just in case.

A good, fast route from NYC to Boston is:

1. Take the West Side Hwy (Rte. 9A) northbound. You will cross the Henry Hudson Bridge (toll).

2. Continue north on 9A. It will change names and become the Saw Mill Parkway.

3. Switch to the Cross County Parkway going East.

4. Then follow signs for the Hutchinson River Parkway North.

5. Continue on the Hutchinson (Hutch).

6. The Hutch will become Rte. 15, the Merritt Parkway.

7. Continue on the Merritt across Connecticut.

8. The Merritt will change names one last time, to the Wilbur Cross Parkway.

9. Take the Wilbur Cross to the very end, where it intersects with I-91.

10. Take I-91 North to Hartford, CT.

11. At Hartford, switch to I-84 East.

12. Take I-84 all the way, until it ends and intersects with I-90, the Mass Pike (toll road).

13. Take I-90 east until you hit Boston.

Should take about three to 3.5 hours.

QC is offline  
Old Feb 27th, 2006, 02:47 PM
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I agree with the advice to take I-90 (Mass Pike) rather than Route 95. The Pike will dump you into Boston almost right at BU.
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