Quest for a Cheap Mode of Transportation From NYC to DC
I recently started working in DC, but with my boyfriend, friends, and family in NYC, I found myself going up to the city that never sleeps nearly every weekend. I quickly realized that my weekly trips to and from New York could quickly burn my budget if I continued to use conventional modes of transportation such as car or train, so I needed another cheap alternative ASAP. Thankfully, I found the Chinatown bus.
I've taken several different low-cost buses between New York and Washington, DC since August, including the Eastern Shuttle, Mega Bus, Bolt, and the Washington Deluxe. Of these options, the Eastern Shuttle has become my bus of choice. Keep reading to find out the reason why, pros and cons of this bus service, and some tips.
I give Eastern Shuttle's Service 5-stars
Eastern Shuttle Bus Pros and Cons
The Eastern Shuttle bus definitely differentiates itself based on low price, but another major selling point for me is the punctuality of the service. Below are some other positive aspects of using Easter Shuttle's services, as well as some not so positive things.
Advantages of Taking the Eastern Shuttle
- Cheap rate. The Eastern Shuttle costs vary between $20 - $25 each way, depending on the day of the week and if it's a holiday. That's cheaper than other bus service providers and way cheaper than driving or taking the train.
- Hourly departures during rush hour.
- Priority is given to bus riders with bus reservations (and holding a printed out ticket).
- Free wi-fi. There were a few occasions when the wi-fi was not functioning, but most of the time it is and it's pretty quick too.
- You can buy a ticket at the office and if the next bus isn't full, you'll get on.
- Conveniently located up the block from Gallery Place-Chinatown in DC (red, green, and yellow lines) and multiple subway lines in NYC.
- Two drop off locations in Manhattan—one on 34th and 7th and another on Allen St. in Chinatown. I really prefer the Midtown location because it's more organized than the Chinatown location and there are no more stops in New York. The bus first stops in Chinatown and then makes its way up to Midtown to pick up passengers from there.
- Decent customer service for a low-cost bus. I was stranded in New York after Hurricane Sandy hit. The bus company contacted me to notify me that the bus had been cancelled due to the weather, and asked me about when I would like to reschedule. I was able to reschedule for their first bus out of NY on Wednesday afternoon, when most other bus services were still not operating. However, a huge disadvantage is that when I attempted to call the customer service line numerous times to find out the status of the bus, nobody picked up.
Price Comparison for Roundtrip NY to DC Transportation
About $150 ($52.80 just on tolls + about $100 on gas @$.358 per gallon)
$98 (if booked 14 days in advance) - $250
$40 - $50
Disadvantages of the Eastern Shuttle Bus
- 10 minute (or longer) breaks at a gas station. I suppose that bathroom/food break can be seen as a pro too but my objective is to get from A to B as quickly as possible so the stopover isn't welcome in my book. Other low-cost buses don't stop at gas stations.
- Bus pick-up/drop-off at Baltimore. The bus stops at Baltimore, which extends the length of the trip by at least a half hour. Other low-cost buses don't make this stop.
- No outlets on the bus. I got spoiled trying out other bus services and unfortunately the Eastern Shuttle doesn't have power plugs on board.
- Particularly if you board the bus in Manhattan's Chinatown, people often push and shove to get on.
Tips for Taking the Eastern Shuttle Bus
Below are some tips I live by as I take the Eastern Shuttle weekly:
- But your ticket at least a day in advance (especially for Friday or Sunday). Friday and Sunday buses sell out quick, so book your ticket as soon as you know you'll be traveling.
- Print out your ticket. To board the Eastern Shuttle bus, you will need a printed ticket. If you don't have a printed ticket, you can print it out for $1 at the office but this will delay your boarding time.
- Arrive at the bus stop at least 15 minutes before the scheduled leave time. One of the things I love most about the Eastern Shuttle is that it is punctual (unlike the other buses). Each time I've taken the Eastern Shuttle, the bus arrives before the scheduled time and leaves right on the dot, while the other low-cost buses are usually about half an hour late.
If you're looking for a luxurious ride between New York City and the District of Columbia, then the Eastern Shuttle is not for you. However, if you're looking to travel to and from the two cities cheaply, you should definitely consider the Eastern Shuttle bus.
Eastern Shuttle Bus Stops in NY
Elroy on June 20, 2015:
Don't ride this bus...
Over full. Rude passengers with chips on their shoulder. No designated seat. Bus arrived late, Driver doesn't speak English. Bus stanks of dirty Third world. No amount of Lysol would fix it.
Sergio Freddson on March 04, 2015:
Thank you for your review! I have been thinking of using this shuttle for a few weeks but haven't been able to tell whether or not it would be worth it. Thanks for breaking down all the benefits! It's nice that there are hourly departures and stuff. I'll definitely have to count this as a serious option! http://www.ak-ecabtaxi.com/Services/
David H. on August 18, 2014:
Stay away. I took this bus from NYC to DC on 8/16/2014. NO TOILET PAPER IN LAVATORY. Bus was over an hour late. Neither the driver nor the expediter were anywhere to be found during the unloading of luggage, allowing someone to try to PICK MY POCKET as I bent over to get my bag. As I said about this company, STAY AWAY.
Ireno Alcala from Bicol, Philippines on January 13, 2013:
Bus travel services abound in my country, Philippines. Priority is given to passengers who bought their tickets a week early (with printout, too).
If you're a 'chance passenger' you can sit on the vacant seat and enjoy the travel . Bus operators also added Wi-fi internet for interested passengers, just like in the USA.
Yes, it's more cheaper when you travel by bus and oil companies are now promoting and selling the so-called 'green' fuel, less emmision of carbon monoxide.
A great hub. Voted up and shared!
Anna (author) from New York, NY on December 04, 2012:
Hey cclitgirl! Thanks for stopping by. Yes, not many people are aware of these "cheap" alternative buses. Thanks for pointing out that using buses - such as this service is not only cheap but is also a sustainable option. Great point!
Cynthia Calhoun from Western NC on November 29, 2012:
Great review - I didn't even know this bus line existed and I believe we need more and more to help propel us to using less oil-dependent resources - buses can help with that. :)
Anna (author) from New York, NY on November 28, 2012:
Thanks NMLady and agusfanani!
agusfanani from Indonesia on November 28, 2012:
A good, informative review.
NMLady from New Mexico & Arizona on November 26, 2012:
This is good info. We have the Light Rail here......Phx.