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The Vine: September 19, 2008

Submitted by on September 19, 2008 – 8:28 AM23 Comments

Hey Sars –

Have you (or any of your readers) heard anything about the new Bolt Bus? It sounds great, but is it? Or is it just another Chinatown bus? I'd love to us it for an upcoming NY to Boston trip.

Thanks,
KM

Dear KM,

I haven't taken it myself, but I've heard that, for the price, it's quite a nice ride. Then again, I've heard that from…one person. Readers, care to broaden our horizons?

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23 Comments »

  • Kizz says:

    I've taken the Boltbus a bit and it is actually all that. There's wifi that really works and power outlets for most seats and the drivers tend to be sort of pleasantly gregarious. They are, of course, better for people who can plan ahead since the further ahead you plan the cheaper your ticket and the sooner you get to board the bus. They generally run pretty close to on time, too, which is more than I can say for the Megabus which I've taken once and will never take again. Give it a shot, I think you'll like it!

  • Jennifer says:

    I haven't taken the Bolt yet, but I have friends who have and liked it. I took the MegaBus to Boston recently and it was also good. Basically the Chinatown price for a (sometimes nicer than) Greyhound quality bus.

  • Erica says:

    I took the D.C. to NY bolt bus over Memorial Day weekend, and for the price it was great. The actual bus is clean and comfortable. The bus from D.C. to NY was about 30 mins behind schedule, but probably becuase it was a Friday evening of a holiday weekend. On the way back on Sunday we arrived in D.C. ahead of schedule. I give it 2 thumbs up!

  • JS says:

    I've taken the Bolt, after years of dealing with the various Chinatown bus companies. Best option out there, bar none, hands down, love, love, love. The busses are cleaner, the seats are more comfortable, the drivers are more reliable (true story: I once took a Chinatown bus that was supposed to go to NYC, but the driver got confused and accidentally drove us to Philly. Seriously. He was in PA before he accepted that we were right, and that this wasn't the way to NYC.).

    Embrace the Bolt.

  • Kasey says:

    I've taken the Bolt Bus from DC to New York, and overall it was great. The bus was new and clean and everything went smoothly, except for a little confusion about loading the buses in New York for the return trip. Having said that, I take the cheap buses whenever I travel between New York and DC as well as between New York and Boston and I've always had a good experience. There isn't much difference between Chinatown buses and these "fancier" buses except that sometimes the buses are newer.

  • Karen says:

    Yeah, Bolt's pretty good. I took the NYC to Boston route. We were a little late, but that was due to traffic, which is always bad on Friday evenings. The driver was really nice. My only complaint is that, because the pick up is on the street, it can be confusing about where to line up and stuff. The way they ticket (A tickets first, etc) helps. Overall, good bang for the buck.

  • Rebecca says:

    Bolt is GREAT! I'm just sad that it's so great, they'll probably start pricing it up because it is clearly so much better than Chinatown buses. They have their charming eccentricities, but in the end you really want a usable bathroom. Bolt Buses are all brand-new, drivers are good, and the wifi is faaaa-bulous.

    Megabus, although without the wireless, also sounds like a worthy competitor to the Chinatown buses. This is the best time to take both Mega and Bolt, because they're new and are pricing very competitively.

  • Jane says:

    I'm taking the Boston-NYC MegaBus for the first time today (and back on Sunday). I used to drive, but my friend moved from Westchester to Queens, so no more easy parking and of course the bus is actually cheaper than the cost of the gas nowadays. So I'll come back Monday and post my review! I have a friend who's taken BoltBus a couple times (Boston-NYC) and she's had all good experiences.

  • Linda says:

    Bolt is, for a bus, Bolt-ylicious. I mean, it's the bus; it's not luxurious. But it's not bad, and it's incredibly cheap, and I've always felt safe. You're at the mercy of the driver a little — I left on a rush-hour bus from Manhattan and wound up waiting two hours to get out of the city, partly because the driver kept thinking he was going to find a route off the island that would outsmart traffic. The same bus stopped an hour short of the destination at 10:30 at night, already running two hours behind, for a totally unnecessary rest stop. But that's only happened once out of a good number of times I've taken it now. Definitely recommended.

  • Olivia says:

    I've taken the Megabus between NYC and Boston (Penn Station and South Station, specifically, not Chinatown), and it was fine. The wireless didn't work, so I may try Boltbus next time to see if theirs does, but it's definitely a good value for your money. The bus was clean and well-maintained; they don't make any stops, so bring some snacks, but there is the bathroom in the back. All told, I found it very similar to long plane flights.

    Boltbus and Megabus are definitely the way to go though, not Fung Wah or Lucky Star.

  • Michael says:

    Took it twice in 2 weeks, to philly then boston. Quite nice actually and probably worth the extra $5-10 bucks so that I don't have to smell urine from the bathroom at back. But don't expect any lax boarding schedule. They move promptly so don't be late. In fact get early, board early and get a good seat(s).

  • Meg says:

    I took the Bolt Bus a few weeks ago and it was awesome. I played on the internet the whole time. The seats were comfy, or at least, not less comfy than a Greyhound, but the WiFi and outlets made all the difference in the world.

  • Smash says:

    The Chinatown buses quite often don't comply with federal safety or disability laws and regulations (I worked on a report on this issue two years ago). I no longer work in transportation oversight, but I hear anecdotally through colleagues that Bolt is MUCH safer than the other usual Chinatown buses and that they are ADA compliant. I usually take the train between NY & DC, but I've been hearing rave reviews all around for Bolt, so might give it a try next time.

  • Becca says:

    I had a great experience with Boltbus this summer, round-trip from NY to DC. We hit a bunch of traffic, but I passed the time catching up on half a season of Weeds episodes!

    Be sure you get a seat with an outlet if you're going to need to charge your laptop, as not every single seat has one.

  • Katherine says:

    My problem with Bolt is that though they have an incredibly convenient stop for going home and visiting my parents, the ONLY WAY to get to either of the Philly stops is to leave from NYC. I live in DC. This is an issue.

  • C.R. says:

    I took the Bolt to Boston and DC from NYC – both times it was clean, the WiFI is good (unless you want to eat up bandwidth by streaming TV shows onto your computer), and it's extra cheap if you buy your tickets early. HOWEVER you are at the mercy of NYC traffic (and CT if you are going to Boston) and it took me 7+ hours to get to Boston. Not a good thing.

  • Kira says:

    I think just the fact that it leaves DC near Metro Center makes it better than most DC to NY buses – I really hate the DC bus station. And it's not even so much the bus station but the walk from metro TO the DC bus station – last time I tried it it was kind of scary.

  • Linda says:

    Yeah, it is absolutely one of the advantages of Bolt that they pick up and drop off right by Metro Center, where you can get on so many different lines. It's really got a lot going for it, once you get over the fact that it's a bus, and that for that reason, it's always got the road-trip problems of accidents, traffic, etc.

  • nsfinch says:

    Here's a side-by-side comparison of DC-to-NY buses that the Washington Post recently ran. I don't know if all those same companies do the NY-to-Boston route, but here's what they said about Bolt Bus:

    "BoltBus is tres chic. Operated by Greyhound, this carrier has big, comfortable seats, tinted windows, electric sockets and free WiFi, making the new X-45 bus model a favorite of the MacBook-carrying passenger. Tickets for the six to 12 daily departures are assigned letters, with "A" boarding first, "B" second, etc., so book early with Bolt's user-friendly Web site to ensure a good seat. And reserve way early (about three months, the company advises) to snag the rare and coveted $1 fare. Before departure on a recent trip, the driver took a vote on whether to make a 20-minute rest stop near the Delaware Memorial Bridge."

  • Nick says:

    I just looked at their website, and it all looks very chic and whatever. But then I see they go to Cherry Hill and…the heck? I mean, I grew up in the area, and admittedly the Cherry Hill mall has it's points, but even as posh as they'd tried to make it it's really not even head and shoulders above the other malls in the area like Moorestown and Burlington. Why on earth would anyone take a bus from NY/DC/Philly/Boston to Cherry Hill?

    The most confusing thing is, it's in the middle of completely car-locked suburbia. If you did take a Bolt bus there, the only way to get out again (or in fact go anywhere other than the mall) without getting someone to pick you up is to…get on another Bolt bus (or wait for one of the mythical suburban Septa buses, but those don't really exist).

  • Harrison says:

    Nick… for people that are visiting folks in Cherry Hill or nearby… it's a heck of a lot more convenient to get picked up in Cherry Hill than in Philadelphia.

    I've taken the Boltbus 2x now… I would never say that a bus trip is a joyous experience… but for $1… I will deal with the BS gladly!

  • camie says:

    The Cherry Hill Mall stop is the main reason I am using Bolt Bus.. its is right around the corner from my house in Maple Shade, and it makes the trip 100% more convenient for me than having to travel into Philly.

  • Jen says:

    So if I park in the Cherry Hill Mall parking lot, do you think my car will get towed? Just going to NYC from Cherry Hill for the day.

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