Anna is a New Yorker writing about her globe-trotting, culinary, and healthy living adventures.
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.
- Cheap rate. The Eastern Shuttle costs vary between $20 and $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 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 at $.358 per gallon)
$98 (if booked 14 days in advance)–$250
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:
- Buy your ticket at least a day in advance (especially for Friday or Sunday). Friday and Sunday buses sell out quickly, so book your ticket as soon as you know you'll be traveling.
- Print out your ticket. To board the 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 it, 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.