megabusWhile I love a bargain, I am skeptical if something is too good a deal. The idea of taking a bus from New York to Boston for $1 is. It turns out, the $1 bus tickets on Bolt Bus or Megabus are not so readily available, but you can get a very inexpensive ride to Boston, Philadelphia, Washington, DC, or a number of other cities.

The experience in New York, though, can be so unpleasant that you may never want to take the bus again. Megabuses leave from a side street along Peen Station, in a poorly marked area with no indication where a bus is going. You just find a couple of long lines and ask people on them what bus they are waiting for. When a bus pulls up, the crowd surges forward and fights onto the bus.

We took a Megabus once to Philadelphia, and it was pouring.  The bus was over an hour late, and we had to stand outside in the rain. When the bus came, all semblance of civilization disappeared and people elbowed their way to the front of the line. My husband was standing in line when the guy in front of him got bumped by someone else (my husband swears he didn’t touch him). The guy turned around and punched him in the stomach.

Riding the Bolt Bus from Boston to New York was an entirely different experience. We actually went into South Station, where clearly marked LED signs announced bus lines and destinations. Bolt Bus gives out tickets with different boarding zones, and several families were in our mix. Our bus left on time, and got in early.

Yet there are still curiosities. With no warning, the bus driver pulled over at an Arby’s and announced a 10-minute rest stop. Why is this stop not even mentioned on the website?  While the Megabus driver unloaded suitcases from the luggage hold, our Bolt bus driver disappeared, and passengers tossed suitcases aside, or into the street, to get to their own stuff.  If you have valuables – well, don’t take the Bolt bus.

Both bus companies offer Wi-Fi, which can be slow and spotty, but if you’ve paid $7 (actually, we paid $32 each for our tickets from Boston to New York on Memorial Day) and are getting free Wi-Fi, it’s not so bad. There are bathrooms. Word to the wise, on the double decker buses, avoid the seats directly above the bathroom