Sick of High Airfares? Bus It

“Greyhound” is considered a curse word in some travel circles. With its share of horror stories, America’s most famous bus line has earned a bit of a bad reputation.

I mean, imagine being stuck in a plane for two hours next to a crying baby or someone who thinks you want to hear their life story. Then imagine similar circumstances on a bus where the travel time is multiplied by ten. Bus travel is not for everybody.

Fortunately, Greyhound and others are offering things that are for everybody: cheap fares and free WiFi. Greyhound has launched a budget service called Boltbus. Its competitor, Coach USA, has also put its budget brand, Megabus, on the roadways.

These buses only offer curbside pick-up, a model begun by so-called Chinatown bus companies. This cuts down on costs associated with maintaining a terminal.

Most of the action is on the East Coast where a battle royale is beginning. Boltbus has been offering $1 fares between some cities and Chinatown carriers and Megabus are primed to respond. The result is that it’s cheap to travel up and down the Atlantic Coast by bus. And it’s a hell of a lot easier to put up with crying babies or talkative passengers when you paying such low fares. Maybe you could spend some of your newly saved dough on a good pair of headphones so you can tune everything out.

Boltbus tweaks onboard wifi, good and evil return to balance

I had the pleasure of riding Boltbus last week, taking the time to ride the MARC all of the way from Baltimore to DC just for the chance to ride the bus back to New York. In my review, I pointed out that the service was nice, clean and on time, although I had issues with the encryption of their wireless network. Indeed, as of their frontpage last week they were having issues with Macintosh users connecting to their über secure mobile network.

David Hall from Boltbus got in touch last week to update me on their networking issues. He told me:

Want to know the truth… we don’t like the 26 digit key either… we run credit card transactions over that network and the encryption is meant to protect those transmissions. This weekend… we are loading new programming and eliminating the key

Sweet! Given the increasing number of Iphone, Mac and Linux users this will make integration into the wireless network easier all around. If someone rides on Boltbus this week, let me know how things went and I’ll update this post.

A mixed review for Boltbus

I’m riding the Boltbus today between Washington DC and New York with my girlfriend. You may have heard about the new budget coach service that operates along the Eastern Seaboard and offers tickets starting from 1$. Their main selling point is that they have in-seat power and wireless internet, so you can work or Youtube or whatever for the four hour ride between cities.

As I write this article, I’m working from my girlfriend’s Sprint Broadband card. Why? The coach’s wireless service is encrypted and nobody can figure out the password. The driver had a card with a 26 letter code, but between myself (on a linux Thinkpad) and another guy (on an Iphone), neither could connect. We called HQ, but they couldn’t help either.

Why would you encrypt a wireless signal on a MOVING BUS? Is someone going to hack it as they drive by at 65MPH? If someone wants to drive alongside and steal internet from a bus as they drive down the highway, I say we GIVE IT TO THEM. It would be much easier to hack someone at the local coffee shop.

Other than that, the in-seat power port is nice. We were able to plug in our notebooks and work (via broadband) for the entire trip. Coaches are new, clean and largely spacious, although similar in configuration to other carriers. Our current bus has 10 passengers on it.

I suppose once the internet is working properly the Boltbus will be a significant improvement over other Chinatown buses. But until they get their wireless working properly, you’re probably better off going with whatever best fits your schedule.

BoltBus adds Boston to schedule

Remember last week when I told you about the awesome $1 fare for bus service between NYC and DC aboard BoltBus? Well, the good news just got even better — they’ve added Boston as another one of their cheap-o destinations, starting in April. You won’t find seats for $1, but once they go on sale, they’ll cost you around $7 for a one-way trip. But, like I mentioned before, be sure to book far in advance and expect to see a booking fee on top of that.

Tickets aren’t on sale yet, but once they are available, book quickly as their sure to go fast at that price. As an added incentive, Bolt Buses offer free WiFi and power outlets on their coaches.

(via Cheapskate Travel)

DC to NYC for $1

Good news for those of you frequent travelers in the NYC and DC areas — Starting today, BoltBus will be offering $1 fares on Eight daily non-stop routes between the two cities. And while travelling on the bus usually isn’t too appealling, get this — they offer free WiFi and power outlets, so that trip won’t seem like any time at all.

Of course, there are some conditions. To take advantage of super-cheap bus fares, book as far in advance as possible; walk-up customers will have to pay the full fare. And that $1 is supplemented by a booking fee, of course.

According to their press release: “Customers can board the street-side service in Washington, D.C., near the Metro Center Station at 11th Street and G Street. BoltBus will operate in New York near Penn Station at 33rd Street and Seventh Avenue and in south Manhattan at 6th Avenue and Canal Street.”


Why take the bus when you can fly in style? (And with a queen size bed!)