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Which train from Philly to NYC and back?


Jun 28th, 2012, 02:47 PM
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Which train from Philly to NYC and back?

We are going to visit family in the Philly area over Thanksgiving and would like to take a side trip to NYC for a few days. I am looking at the train schedule and there is a huge drop in price for the Vermonter train. Does anyone know why the Vermonter is so much cheaper than the Northeast Regional and the Acela Express? It appears to have the same amenities as both and is only about 10 minutes slower than the Northeast Regional. Unless there is a real compelling reason not to take the Vermonter I'm booking it and saving a couple hundred bucks!

Thanks in advance for your replies.

Attnymom is offline  
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Jun 28th, 2012, 03:07 PM
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Have you also checked with NJ Transit? They are cheaper than AMTRAK.
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Jun 28th, 2012, 03:22 PM
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Neither the Vermonter nor ANY of those regionals have the same amenities as the Acela nor are they as fast. I would agree with at least looking into NJ Transit; just make sure you aren't on some "local" that makes every stop.
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Jun 28th, 2012, 04:31 PM
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If you're going direct from Philly to NYC, can schedule the exact time of both going and return, and can book your choices three days in advance; then you can take Greyhound non-stop for $30 round-trip -- slightly less than Septa / NJ Transit, which takes longer, and less than one-third the cost of even the least expensive Amtrak. You can check your large bags (can't do that on railways). You get to board first on this bus, which has free wi-fi and 120 outlets at each seat.

No matter how you travel, you'll have to carry your bags to and from the bus or train -- and, if you take NJ Transit, that means from one train to another at Trenton Station.

Want to save even more money? Take Greyhound.
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Jun 28th, 2012, 05:16 PM
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The potential difference is in time - especially around thanksgiving. Barring a very unusual storm (downing trees on the lines or blizzard snow and wind) the trains runs reasonable on time (15 minutes or so). If there is bad weather, or an accident, or construction, or traffic (chances of all of these near Thanksgiving) the bus can easily take twice the scheduled time.

So - it sort of depends on which you value more - your time or your money. And your willingness to sit in traffic. I have seen it take more than an hour to get down the helix to the Lincoln Tunnel - which should take no more than 5 minutes.
nytraveler is offline  
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Jun 28th, 2012, 06:59 PM
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The Acella Express is a faster train with less stops so it always costs more.
The Keystone trains that come from Harrisburg are $50/pp which is less than the Vermonter. There are 46 trains per day so you just pick the time that works for you.
Also check New Jersey transit for a lower fare. A lower fare will generally mean that the train will be more crowded.
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Jun 29th, 2012, 09:04 AM
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To answer your original question, there is no compelling reason not to take the Vermonter and save a few hundred $$.

The Acela has reserved seats, more spacious seats and is slightly faster. IMO - and I have taken it - it's not worth the difference in price.

If there's a big price difference between the NE regional and the Vermonter and only 10 minutes difference, definitely take the Vermonter. The price difference can definitely be due to those 10 minutes.

OTOH, I don't know what the NJ Transit fares are so it's definitely worth looking into. Nor am I familiar with the Keystone that tomfuller mentioned.

I recently took Bolt Bus - a division of Greyhound - RT from NY to DC and both trips were comfortable and right on schedule. They also go to Philly.

I don't usually stress over what might happen to delay a trip, b/c anything can happen at any time, and nothing is certain so it's not worth worrying about.
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Jun 29th, 2012, 09:15 AM
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I took NJ Transit one time (not knowing the difference at the time between Amtrak and NJ Transit -- it was a last minute decision when my connecting flight from Philly was cancelled). It's more of a commuter train than Amtrak, which is more of a long-distance train. I also had to change trains at Trenton. But it's very very much less expensive. It think it was $20 from Philly to NY.
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Jun 29th, 2012, 09:19 AM
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When I was traveling from Philly to New York, karens and suki recommended that I take NJ Transit from the Franklin Station. It worked out beautifully. The station isn't far from the Philadelphia area, there is plenty of parking, and the train goes right into Penn Station. It was one-tenth what we would have paid, at that time, for Amtrak. Sure, the trains aren't as nice as the Amtrak trains but you aren't on there for long. On our return trip, we did transfer in Trenton to go in to 30th St station. That was eazy peazy.
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Jun 29th, 2012, 11:16 AM
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Thank you for all your replies - I appreciate it very much!
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Jun 29th, 2012, 05:00 PM
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Attnymom, all good advice here. I'll just add that since you're talking about this trip being around Thanksgiving, please save yourself some sanity and don't travel on the day before or the Sunday after! Everything in the northeast corridor gets bogged down; Amtrak very frequently is super-delayed on those days.

FWIW, Amtrak prices tickets in no small part according to demand. The Vermonter isn't as traveled a route outside of the overlap with the northeast corridor. It recently (and maybe still?) had large parts of the route covered by bus while they did work on the tracks - again, not part of the northeast corridor - so they may be "compensating" for that. Another key price factor is time of day. The third key component is amount of time in advance of needing the tickets (needless to say, you're plenty in advance!).
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Aug 5th, 2012, 08:42 PM
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If you take Septa and NJ Transit, it costs as of now $8.75 for the Septa Train from 30 Street Station to Trenton, and the NJ Transit ticket to Penn Station NY (Not NJ/Newark) is $15.50. These are one way fares. If you buy the ticket on the train rather than the station it will cost a lot more. The transfer at Trenton is easy. There are only a few platforms and there are elevators and escalators too. The waiting room on the platform is heated. Amtrak uses the same tracks. Septa is a suburban rail. not beautiful but functional. I have taken NJ Transit and have been on new double decker trains as well as older trains.
For an idea as to schedule/ travel time look at njtransit.com and also the septa website.
these are computer trains so you dont have to book in advance. You can buy a ticket the same day you travel. there are trains that are scheduled to connect so you dont have a long wait in Trenton..maybe 5-10 minutes; some NJ trains are express trains too.

you can also take Mega Bus or the Bolt Bus to 34th Street in Manhattan, and can book in advance.. just dont take one of those cheap Chinatown buses. the FBI recently shut down a few in NYC ,and they have a reputation for a lack of safety.. there have been deadly accidents

You can also take amtrak if you wish.. more expensive but convenient. Acela is a little faster and whole lot more expensive.
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Aug 5th, 2012, 09:57 PM
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Someone just posted a horror story about Bolt Bus on another thread - don't know if it were real or a rival of Bolt. I've never taken Bolt, so can't really say.

Here's the other thread. The horror story is at the end:

easytraveler is offline  
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Aug 6th, 2012, 04:42 AM
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Bolt and Mega buses are definitely cheaper than Amtrak. However, they ar subject to the same delays (bad weather, traffic, accident) as any other vehicle on the road. And at Thnaksgiving those delays can be siginficant.

If your trip is time sensitive, train has a much greater chance of being on time (within 15 minutes or so) and buses have a much greater chance of delays - which can be minor or can be a couple of hours.
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