Battle of the Buses

June 8, 2010

Before I get to his post, I should note that guest blogger Bret took issue with my Tiffany recommendation last week, and thought I should also recommend Michael C. Fina, a business he is very close to. I did have to concede that I also shop for gifts, particularly wedding gifts, at Fina. And I myself was a registered Fina bride, so perhaps I will have to do another post on registering at Fina!

So now that I have that straightened out, our man about town Bret is trying to get to Philly, and he takes us along for the ride:

Last month, I headed from New York to Philadelphia for my college reunion at the University of Pennsylvania with my buddy Randall and we were flooded with transportation options.  For those in college back in the day, the method of choice was the inexpensive but cumbersome 2½-hour route on the New Jersey Transit and SEPTA connection (today about $15).  As we got closer to graduation and the real world, we took Amtrak, a ride of about 90 minutes (anywhere from about $47-$67).  Later, in our working lives, when time became money and money was less of an issue, the Acela became the best bet — a ride of just over an hour for about $88-$131.  (All fares are modern-day prices and vary by date and time of travel.)

Yet, in the internet, fast-paced, gotta-have-choices world of today, of course there are even more options for NY-Philly transportation so we decided to try two of the “newer” competing low-cost buses.

On the way down, we took the Bolt bus.  A joint venture of Greyhound and Peter Pan, it offers a cheap ($8-$13), comfortable, wi-fi enabled, non-stop, relatively quick (2 hours) trip between New York Penn Station and Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station.  On our particular early Friday afternoon ride, the Bolt bus was great in theory and the ride was comfortable, but it didn’t deliver on quick (the ride took 2 hours and 45 minutes, perhaps made even worse when the driver took some kind of creative and ultimately fruitless detour through suburban New Jersey when then turnpike was jammed).  The wi-fi service was spotty, but when it worked the time just flew.   Overall, it was certainly a better option that NJ Transit and SEPTA, even if the process of lining up and boarding the sold-out bus was a bit chaotic.

On the return trip back to New York, we took the Apex bus, which essentially promises the same cheap ($10), comfortable, sometimes wi-fi enabled, non-stop, relatively quick 2-hour trip between Chinatown in NY and Chinatown in Philly (and yes, the majority of passengers appeared to be Chinese).  Unlike the Bolt bus, we were basically on time (of course, it was Sunday morning instead of Friday afternoon) and the Chinatown pick-up location in Philly was convenient for our hotel.  The bad news is that there was no discernible wi-fi and the air conditioning was off for the first part of the trip when it was about 85 degrees (the AC came on later and stayed on until we felt like we were in Rocky’s famous meat locker).  And we had been sprinting to make the coach, only to hop on and have the bus leave a minute early – this driver was serious about the schedule.  Also, we stopped once for 10 seconds outside Philly at the competing Bolt bus stop long enough for the driver to stick his head out and yell “New York,” perhaps in an attempt to fill the remaining open seats and adding to the casual no-frills feel of the ride.

Overall, I was happy to have two more options.  And since I’m still looking for my next in-house legal job (hint, hint), my less-than-full schedule could handle the slightly longer journey and my wallet enjoyed the extremely low price for a non-stop trip.  I’m not ready to pick a winner based on only one ride each, but essentially they both win because I would try either bus again.


One Response to “Battle of the Buses”

  1. Teegan Says:

    Thanks for the kind words regarding Michael C. Fina! We are excited to hear you registered for your wedding with us and enjoy our wedding gift selection. We also have a great selection of gifts perfect for dads and grads as well. 😉 I invite you and your readers to join our Facebook fan page for more info if you are interested.

    Feel free to reach me directly via e-mail for more information about the store, our services, upcoming events or exclusive promotions. Thanks again for the nice mention!

    Teegan Conti
    PR & Special Events Coordinator

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