|by Budget Travel||Local and Public Transportation||9|
Port Authority bus station is a squat, industrial building that frowns on the frivolity and neon of Times Square, and bus riders know why. The chaotic mood inside its terminals is reflected in the surly drivers and gloomy passengers who pay up to $70 to get from New York City to Philadelphia on Greyhound and other bus lines. The only alternative to Port Authority used to be the famously cheap “Chinatown” bus companies, whose drivers are known for speeding and whose floors are invariably movie-theater sticky.
Enter the Boltbus company, a spinoff of Greyhound, which celebrates its first anniversary this week. The company has transported 800,000-plus travelers in the past year. Rates on Bolt Bus can be as low as $2 to Boston round trip, if you buy in advance.
Boltbus includes the kinds of perks that make a $200 train fare seem like something out of the 19th-century. A second after you purchase your Boltbus ticket online, a text message of the confirmation number can light up your cell phone and serve as your e-ticket. Other perks: Each seat has an outlet, and free wireless internet is standard.
Boltbus has its dedicated fans. I once witnessed an impromptu round of applause burst forth from a busload of weathered New Yorkers at 7 a.m. in the dead of winter. We hope the applause keeps coming for a long time.—Julia Furlan