So I am on the train to New York City and now seems like a perfect time (2 hours and 45 minutes) to sit down and bang out some posts for my blog. It’s been harder than you think to blog. It’s very time consuming.
So since I am on my way to New York – let’s talk about how to get there. Believe me – I’ve tried almost every combination of transportation possible to get there and if I haven’t tried it – I probably know someone that has.
Disclaimer: So if you are coming from anywhere farther south than Richmond Virginia, anywhere west of the northern and mid-atlantic states of the Eastern Seaboard or from outside the US, the journey to New York is quite time consuming. You know this – depending on your financial situation, you can fly to one of the airports, take a very long train or bus journey or drive yourself there. Any of these works – you have to know what works best for you. If flying or driving and looking to save on cash, getting at least within my area laid out above may help tremendously. Parking in Manhattan is extremely expensive (at a minimum $25 – 35 per day) and driving can be very hazardous to your sanity, especially if you are not used to driving in a large city and all the extra observation and concentration that entails. So people outside my normal realm of being are just going to have to piece it together.
Now the real meat of my posting – how to get there cheaply. I know a lot of newspapers have covered the basic info – but it helps to know the inside track from people who have tried it.
So the airports in NYC are not easily connected into the subway – stinks. I know. I always fly into LaGuardia (it’s the smallest) and it costs me at least $35 to get into Manhattan in cab fare. Although for the first time this summer, I took an airport shuttle bus and let me tell you it was pretty good. You need extra time to spare because it works on a schedule – but the buses were clean and people were nice and the price was right. It drops you off at either Grand Central (eastside) or Port Authority (Westside) – from one of these you can easily get on the subway or bus and get where you are going. They have the same shuttle at all the airports but they don’t go from one airport to another.
Oh Amtrak – it is a love/hate relationship that we have with you. Your trains are so nice and you can walk around and it doesn’t take so long to get there – but why oh why are you so expensive. For anyone who has taken trains anywhere else in the world – there is usually an economy class that is affordable to the every man. Not in the US northeast corridor. I am currently on Acela (the express train between DC and NYC or Boston) and it has cost my company $350 round-trip for my seat. And it’s only business class. All I get is a seat and a power outlet. That’s outrageous. So plan on the regional train costing for an economy seat between $100 and $200 roundtrip (depending on your travel dates and times). There are some deals – but they are few and far between because even though it is expensive – the train between Boston and DC is really popular. Sad as it is, often now, flying is cheaper than taking the train so a lot of people fly – including myself. With getting out to the airports and security, it takes about the same time – you just have to factor cost of cabs in to see if it works. The plus for Amtrak on this is I had my first cancelled flight this summer out of LaGuardia for rain and the trains definitely still go in the rain.
I have also taken the drive/train combo – not bad. It saves on parking in the city and the hassle of driving but it takes about the same amount of time as driving. I recommend parking and getting on NJ Transit at Metropark if coming from the south or New Haven or Stamford if coming from the north and heading on Metro North. I’ve done both – they are both fine – on your standard regional trains. Note – these trains tend not to work late at night so don’t plan on getting home on them after a late night out in the city.
Automobiles (and Buses)
Let me tell you if you are going to Manhattan – once you get there you have no need for a car. As a result, the parking garages will charge you up the wazoo for them basically doing nothing and you will be bitter when you have this huge bill for a few days of fun in the city. I don’t recommend driving into Manhattan the cost is not worth it. If coming from the south, the tolls round trip per car are $50 – 60. From the north there are also tolls, but not as many.
So there is a new alternative – a throwback. We are going retro. It’s the bus. That’s right – the bus. Let me tell you all the cool kids take the bus and they all sit in the middle (who wants to sit next to the bathroom in the back). It’s about as fast as the Amtrak regional train or as fast as you can drive and the price is cheap. I have personally ridden the Vamoose bus several times (including when my flight was cancelled for rain) and it is clean and full of professional people (mostly young, but some older) who are just looking for a convenient and cheap way between cities. I’ve also heard great things about Bolt Bus. The ones I recommend are quiet and clean; allow food and even sometimes show a movie. Depending on which bus you choose, time and date, and when you book, it can cost you between $1 and $25 for a one-way trip (that’s the cost of tolls for driving). The Chinatown and Greyhound buses are alittle more for the adventuresome. You won’t find me on one – more so due to the location of the pick up points in DC but still. I have friends who have ridden both and it is a mixed experience. It’s a cash and carry establishment – no money needed to reserve but you better have cash when you get on the bus. The best buses leave from the side of Madison Square Garden/Penn Station and you will find there buses going to Boston, Baltimore, Philly, Delaware, DC, Richmond and places in between. I usually make a reservation (even day off) but last time just walked up and they had room so I got on.
I think I have covered all the truly viable options. I know there are others – helicopter, sailboat, hitchhiking, biking – whatever floats your boat – but this should get you started.