Going from the big Scrapple to the Big Apple used to be easy and reasonable (cheap) by a good old train that we used to love as kids. But the Pennsy Railroad became AMTRAK and fares to our northern playground and home again soared to north of $100. So unless you live in New Jersey, it’s a schlep to Trenton to take the NJT for a roundtrip fare of $31.
But coincidently, residents of Chinatowns in both cities were finding a new way of connecting families – The Chinatown bus. For $20 round trip it was reasonable, convenient, on-time and made the run in under 2 hours. It was discovered by students, theater-goers, shoppers and business people. Other transit companies got in the act and we now have a bus bonanza. Here’s the deal:
APEX CHINATOWN BUS
1015 Arch Street
Apex was one of the earliest Chinatown buses to serve Philadelphia. It operates within a block of the Market Street East Regional Rail Station and on a hub of bus and subway stops. It becomes an ideal connection from public transit. Morning and evening buses leave every half-hour. Off-peak times hourly or less frequently . The waiting room area is Spartan, but it’s out of the weather. The staff is efficient, but since there might be a language gap, make sure you’re getting on the right bus. Apex also goes to Boston, Washington and Richmond. The terminal point in New York is Allen Street in Chinatown which is in walking distance of lower Manhattan including Wall Street, the Lower East Side, Little Italy and SOHO. The roundtrip fare is $20 and reservations can be made on-line at: http://www.apexbus.com/
NEW CENTURY 2000
55 North 11th Street
New Century 2000 takes the Chinatown bus concept up a few levels. Streamlined buses feature airline style seating, but with more leg room than you’ll find in any jetliner. The schedule to New York runs from early morning till after midnight with buses operating every half-hour. The Philadelphia pickup point is less than a block from the 11th street exit of the Market East Regional Rail Station and convenient to bus and subway stops. There is a basic needs waiting room and the staff is very efficient. But, again, there may be a language gap so check the bus destination before getting on because New Century buses also serve Washington and Richmond. Bags fly free and can be stored in a baggage compartment. The round-trip fare is $20 and reservations can be made on-line at: http://www.2000coach.com/ . The New York terminal point is on Allen Street near Delancy, convenient to all of lower Manhattan.
30TH Street and JFK Blvd.
British bus boss, Megabus has crossed the pond and in style. Megabus is running regular service from Philadelphia to an array of eastern and Midwest cities including New York, Boston, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Harrisburg and Washington. Top roundtrip fare to the Big Apple is $22. But searching the Megabus website for promotional offers netted fares as low as zero, $1 and $8 each way. The colorful double decker buses are the most comfortable of the low cost carriers and feature free Wi-Fi and electrical plug-ins at each seat. Running time to New York is scheduled for 2 hours, but usually runs less. The service is professional and there’s help to stow your bags in the luggage compartment. No charge for luggage. The only downside is a lack of shelter at the Philadelphia departure stop. If there’s rain or snow in the forecast, bring an umbrella and bundle up. The buses leave from the north side of JFK Blvd, directly across from the west exit of 30th Street Station. The drop-off is in mid-town Manhattan at 28th street and 7th Avenue. Make reservations on-line at: http://us.megabus.com/Default.aspx
30th Street and JFK Blvd.
Bolt Bus is the latest to come on the bus scene in Philadelphia to fill the demand for low cost service to New York. It’s a joint venture of the venerable Greyhound Bus and Peter Pan Bus Lines. Fares are competitive and generally run between $18 and $24 for round-trip tickets between Philadelphia and mid-town Manhattan. But Bolt Bus also runs special promotions that can take the fare down to $1 each way for a few seats on most buses. Buses feature comfortable airline style seats with ample leg room. There’s free Wi-Fi throughout the bus and electrical plug-in outlets. Bolt and Megabus score most of the business travelers who use buses. Bolt Bus also serves Boston and Baltimore from Philadelphia. The departure stop is also on the north side of JFK Boulevard, directly opposite the west exit of 30th Street Station. It’s an outdoor stop without shelter, so prepare for the weather. Buses to New York run every half-hour during peak times. Off-peak schedules vary depending on time of day. Check the schedule and make reservations at: https://www.boltbus.com/
Tip: Make reservations. Each line will let you board an earlier bus on the same ticket if there’s room, but at least you’ll be guaranteed the seat you reserved, if there isn’t. – Jay Lloyd