NYC Hop on Hop Off or not.

Jul 8th, 2014, 06:49 PM
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NYC Hop on Hop Off or not.

Leaving for NYC for 4 days and can't decide whether to use the Hop On Hop Off. Staying in Chelsea area. I know we can use the subway with few problems, just wanted opinions which way is the best to see the city. I used one in Wash DC and it was great, but I was afraid the traffic might be a problem. Thanks!
chayes is offline  
Jul 8th, 2014, 07:07 PM
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HoHo Bus: Best as a scenic tour/overview of the city, not as transportation. The tour guide narration may provide good information, though some guides are better than others. Can be stuck in traffic, be too hot in the summer on the upper level, and have long waits for the next bus. A bigger investment.

Subway train/city bus: Best way to get from place to place quickly at any time of day is by subway, but no city scenery, though great for seeing the many faces of New York. City bus can offer some scenery if you get a window seat, but can get stuck in traffic. Subway platforms can be opressively hot in the summer, but all trains and buses are air conditioned. Both bus and subway have frequent service. Less costly.

It's really up to you.
ellenem is online now  
Jul 8th, 2014, 08:26 PM
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Ellen's post is a great recap. I like HOHO buses, even though some local posters do not. It's a great way to navigate the city and see the major sights. Yes, it's a slow go through Times Square and Midtown, but I really enjoy watching the people and the buildings and relaxing and not worrying about navigating. The tour guides can be spotty - some are good and some are not. But I like them a lot.

"Subway platforms can be opressively hot in the summer,..."
Completely agree! I'm from the hot and humid south and the heat is nothing like the non-moving air on a subway platform. In summer, I like to use the bus and it's a plus that there's a/c and not a lot of steps to deal with.

Last summer I used a subway and bus combination to travel to see the Cloisters and stopped off at St. John the Divine. I was checking out the map and schedule to decide which to take to go "home" and the HOHO bus went by - and I wished I had a ticket to get on, sit back and relax and enjoy the scenery. Consider buying the option that includes the night tour too.
Locals may be comfortable navigating from downtown to Harlem, but as a visitor you can ride the loops and not worry about navigating. If you get off the bus to walk around, find your way back to another stop on the loop and ride for a while again.
starrs is offline  
Jul 8th, 2014, 08:55 PM
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The HoHo is over $40 per person, that is awful lot of cabs and buses. And the people ride on top of the bus, do you think that will hot on a July afternoon?

Besides the tour guides make up stuff. I do not know what percentage, but I can hear what they say when they pass through our neighborhood.
IMDonehere is offline  
Jul 9th, 2014, 03:09 AM
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IMHO not rally bearable in the heat/humidity of midsummer, especially in the traffic you will hit. At busy time (many in summer) the bus may well get to r stop with no seats - and then you have to wait another 30 minutes for one to turn up.

I see them often in my neighborhood and can;t imagine why these tourists want to see me and my neighbors go to the bank or the drugstore or the cleaners. Surely there is something you want to see more than this.
nytraveler is offline  
Jul 9th, 2014, 04:59 AM
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We decided to try the HOHO bus in NYC a few years ago when I badly sprained my ankle a few days before our trip. First try, we got stuck in traffic. 2nd try, guide was super obnoxious--wanting everybody to play his stupid games. 3rd try, the guide had a severe off at the first opportunity and never got on again.

elberko is offline  
Jul 9th, 2014, 05:05 AM
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The pricing varies but for $58 one can have 2 or 3 days of unlimited use that also includes the night tour. That's more than using a subway pass but far less than taking cabs.

I think what the locals miss is that the convenience is worth it to a lot of folks. Folks who aren't familiar with taking subways and buses and may be overwhelmed with the process and folks who are familiar with the process but like the ease of hopping off, doing a bit of sight-seeing, shopping, etc. and then looking at the map, walking to the next pick-up location and continuing on their tour. It's fabulous when your feet are tired and you just want to rest for a while. What better way to rest than on a ride that is taking you across or through the city to the next location you want to visit? It's especially nice when you are with other people. It gives you a structure, a framework. "Here's the routing, now where do we want to go next?"

Most locals do not cover the amount of ground in a 48 or 72 hour period that tourists do. Heck, I cover more ground in a week than my local friends do in years. Tourists want to see as much as possible in the amount of time they have. It's a different motivation. That's not just true in NYC but ask anyone who has played "tour guide" in their own city/area when friends come to visit and want to see things.

When you have loops than run through all corners of the city, you'll see a mix of neighborhoods. The neighborhood may not be the destination but it's interesting to see the differences.

Are HOHO buses a good option for locals?
I doubt anyone would say "yes".
Are HOHO buses a good option for tourists?
For many, the answer is "yes".
starrs is offline  
Jul 9th, 2014, 05:55 AM
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I like to use the Ho-Ho busses anytime I am in a new city . . gives you a nice overview and the ability to go back and visit whatever is interesting to you. Anytime I had a guide I did not like, I just got off and caught the next bus.

Like most locals, I did not use it when I lived in London, but often recommended it to visitors

As said earlier, it is a totally different experience for visitors than for Locals
Rich is offline  
Jul 9th, 2014, 05:58 AM
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Starrs, I agree with what you said. But I was in NYC this weekend. We had debated the HOHO for the reasons you stated but we watched a bus fully board and pull out - only to sit in traffic for the next 10 minutes without moving due to congestion. People sitting on the top deck did not look happy. Granted, it was a holiday weekend so there was a lot more people in the city but I would think twice. That being said, we took one in Philly and absolutely loved it. I think the difference being the amount of ground that is covered. Philly's tourist area is a lot smaller.
tchoiniere is offline  
Jul 9th, 2014, 07:09 AM
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T, I imagine that was in the Times Square area. It makes better sense to walk around/ through congested areas and pick it up at a stop south ( or north) of TS. I imagine you would see similar looks at the faces of folks in cabs - sitting in the same traffic. That's the beauty of HOHO.

At the end of the day or in the middle of the same day when tired, that 10 minutes can be both a rest and entertainment. If you are traveling with someone with mobility issues, that rest can be very welcomed indeed.
starrs is offline  
Jul 9th, 2014, 07:52 AM
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I do not take the HOHO in other cities where available. It just seems expensive for what you get and you really get to know a place by walking it.
IMDonehere is offline  
Jul 9th, 2014, 11:44 AM
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We tried this once in London. After 25 minutes of sitting in traffic and having the glaringly obvious pointed out to us - with no extra information - we got off and just went on our way.

And this was a free bus that came as part of a free package to London (6), Amsterdam (3) and Paris (5). After that we just told the guide we would see her when it came time to go to the next city. (Just one more reason I avoid tours whenever possible.)
nytraveler is offline  
Jul 9th, 2014, 12:06 PM
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If you have problems walking or don't wish to get off the bus and just have a drive-through, I can see the value in one of these tours ... but only as a tour.

The problem in NYC is that the buses do get stuck in traffic, and we have so much transit that will get you to the places you need to go quicker, cheaper, and easier, that it seems a waste of time and money to me, especially if you have limited time. But they don't run often enough to accommodate the crowds in the busy tourist seasons, and I also just can't imagine wanting to be out in the open under the sun for 3 or 4 hours during the summer.
doug_stallings is offline  
Jul 9th, 2014, 12:23 PM
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I've taken them in other cities and have used them the same way.

Different strokes for different folks.

I've not had to wait for a second bus anywhere and would not wait 3 or 4 hours during the summer for anything.

I don't care about the "tour" part of it - the narration. I use it for transportation. The next time I am in NYC with newbies, I'll take one again. It works well the way I use them even though it's impossible for some locals to comprehend. When I'm solo, I use the subway most of the time and take a bus in summer.

If the "out in the open under the sun for 3 or 4 hours during the summer" is a reference to sitting on the top level, then move to the lower level. I've taken them - and sat on the top level - in winter months. I remember the excitement on the faces of a couple from the US Virgin Islands when they saw snow for the first time. It was just a few flakes, but they were jumping up and down with excitement. Then we all (including my mom) went up to the top to ride around the city for a while. In the winter. With snowflakes falling.

Go figure.
starrs is offline  
Jul 9th, 2014, 01:14 PM
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My compliments, starrs. You've made some interesting observations as both a tourist and, at the same time, an individual who has spent much time in the city.

Too often, some of us locals fail to recognize the basic fact that tourists often want different things from our great city than we locals do. And, thus, things that many locals abhor like Times Square and hop-on-hop-buses may just be what the tourists want!
HowardR is offline  
Jul 9th, 2014, 01:18 PM
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Thank you, HowardR.
That was very nice.
starrs is offline  
Jul 9th, 2014, 05:06 PM
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The article link in this post is a few years old. There are links to newer articles in the comments section and note there are a few more new companies and it isn't at all clear how often their buses go by. I used to guide on the top of the bus. I don't any more. I was addicted to the view but public buses and subways are a better way to go places and see things.
SueNYC is offline  
Jul 10th, 2014, 05:05 AM
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As a Manhattanite, I was always more in the anti-HOHO bus camp. Why are these giant buses barreling through my quiet (compared to midtown) neighborhood? Why do these tourists need to take photos of me carrying home the groceries?

Then, some friends visited New York a few summers ago. They are a couple who grew up in the NY suburbs and moved away 30 years ago. They came to NY for a five-day visit at a midtown hotel. I'd warned them about traffic and heat on the HOHO bus, but they made their own choice and purchased two-day tickets.

They loved the HOHO bus. They loved seeing Manhattan from the double-decker vantage point since they are fans of architecture. They loved the bits of information provided by the guide. They loved getting a better understanding of the location of different sights and seeing different types of neighborhoods they probably wouldn't otherwise visit.

However, they rode the full loop of each route without getting off. After their overview rides—all in early morning or late afternoon/evening to avoid the heat of the day—they used the subway to actually visit the sights they wanted to visit.

This changed my opinion of the HOHO bus, thus my answer at the top of this thread which tried to present the pros and cons of both options.

The one time my friends actually got off the bus in the middle of the route was to visit me in the East Village. When the bus stopped and they got up to leave, the guide yelled to them, "What are you doing? Why are you getting off? No one ever gets off here!"

They replied, "We know where we're going."

I suppose this funny interchanged confirmed my suppostion that there's nothing to see in my neighborhood.
ellenem is online now  
Jul 10th, 2014, 05:48 AM
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My compliments, ellenem. Your comments did a better job of conveying the points I was trying to make!
HowardR is offline  
Jul 10th, 2014, 06:11 AM
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Excellent post, ellenem! And there's something fabulous to see in your neighborhood. You!

I think ellenem would be rich if she gave paid tours of her neighborhood. Hmmmm ....sideline business?

I remember being gently mocked by my friend who had recently moved to NYC about our HOHO bus tours, but later on the trip when we referenced the Lipstick building when discussing a place to meet up for dinner, she realized that my little ole mom knew things about the city that she had no idea about. Not of major importance, but it's true that the loops give one an overview and layout of the city that helps one navigate later.

I agree that NYC is a walking city but I doubt many people walk from the Village to Harlem in the same day. Using the HOHO routes kind of like a streetcar system or the trolley/cable car combination in San Francisco, one can cover very large amounts of ground in a relatively short time. Yes, the subway would almost always be faster, but one doesn't get to see the city as one goes by (or under, in the case of subways). With limited time in the city, I'd rather SEE the things in between than zip under. On a visit where I met up with ellenem in her neighborhood, I took the subway to get there without being late, but hopped on a city bus and just relaxed and watched the city go by on the way back.

Speed matters a lot to New Yorkers. It's hard to imagine (I've come to realize) but it's NOT a main goal for visitors. Unless I'm trying to make a show or meet someone for dinner, getting there fast is not a factor for me. Heck, I'm on vacation!

In thinking about this thread, I realize that my battered HOHO map is my version of a streetcar map. I get off, walk around to see the things I want to see, and walk to another stop (not necessarily the next stop on their route) to get to the next place I want to go. It's just an easy way to navigate the city, especially when there are newbies in tow. It's a time for everyone to rest and it's a bonus if the guide at the time is decent and shares something interesting or funny.
starrs is offline  

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