Mar

13

Get Back to Where You Once Belonged

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The joy of attending school in New York is that half of the student body has endured a subway ride with a stranger passed out and drooling on their shoulder. In the hope of avoiding unpleasant public transportation experiences, Bwog reposts its pre-break peregrination pointers (“travel tips” seems so overdone). And if you think this is a load of blithering idiocy, kindly email your travel advice to [email protected]
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How to decide upon the lesser of the three evils: train, bus or car?

* “I’m going to Western Massachusetts, and booked a train two weeks ago to get there (already most days were filled up) and am booking a Greyhound bus today to get back. I figure the roads will be worse on Thursday�making Amtrak convenient�but not so bad in the middle of the day on Sunday, making the bus more flexible and economical.”

* “If you live in Philly or its environs, any Chinatown bus during holiday season will be packed with everyone you went to high school with. NJ Transit, though a foul, foul beast, is a less awkward experience. I plan to take a very early (7:14) train on Thurs. morning, which will get me into 30th Street at 9:30 am. I hear Thurs. morning NJ Transit trains are pretty empty.”

* “If your parents are visiting tell them to avoid the LIE at all costs.”

* “Penn Station is a ghost town past 1:30 in the morning.”

* “Triboro Bridge to Columbia all the way. And the secret best route to all points north (holidays only) is to take 155th St to the Harlem River Drive to the GW Bridge to the Palisades Parkway. Even to Connecticut. Even to Iceland.”

So you’ve chosen to ride the bus:

* “If you’re taking a bus, get a bus that leaves from Penn Station rather than Chinatown, you save a lot of time in transit on the Subway.”

* “I typically go to my uncle’s farmhouse outside of Hagerstown, Pennsylvania; it
always takes a ride on Beiber Bus, which leaves from the Port Authority Bus Terminal in a stink, invariably. It would probably be intelligent to bring potourri or patchouli along with, just in case. Or, if you don’t have to go to small-town Pennsylvania, to take Fung Wah for better-smelling buses. Additionally, one must make a point of purchasing tickets at the counter, rather than at the electronic machine: Nobody can explain it, but there are no monitors showing bus departure gates at the PABT. Only the ticket ladies know; that is how they maintain their power.”

* “The secret of taking Chinatown buses is that the ones that leave from Flushing [and 8th Avenue in Brooklyn] are less crowded (and harder to plan).”

* “The secret of the Port Authority is that while the bathrooms claim that there are ‘Plainclothes cops on duty’, after 8 PM it’s strictly crack addicts. The real secret of the Port Authority is that the pizza place on the mezzanine level has garlic knots and free ice water.”

* “Fung Wah = death.”

LIRR

* “I’ve always taken the train home to Long Island from Penn on Wednesdays, usually in the later afternoon, and it is always packed. Always. They run more trains, but still every year I’ve ended up having to stand the whole way home.”

NJ Transit

* “There are a few days during the year (around the 4th of July, Thanksgiving, etc.) in which the car is as full as it could get. Literally. Avoid NJ Transit the day before a holiday. If you live that close, your parents should give you a ride (goddamn them)!”

Metro North

* “Full of Wall Street types going to Greenwich, Westport, Fairfield, etc., but nice and empty by the time it gets to New Haven! As a side note: the last time I took the train home, at rush hour, a 60-something-year-old very well dressed and professional looking man actually punched me because I accidentally nudged him with my rolling suitcase. I was so shocked I didn’t even say anything, just gaped and rolled on.”

* “It took me a really long time to realize that if you’re taking metro north anywhere (Westchester or CT), it makes much more sense to take the M60 or a cab up to 125th street station than to go all the way to Grand Central, unless traffic is really bad, which it can be.”

Amtrak

* “The secret of departing from Penn Station via Amtrak is to hang around the Red Cap counter, so you know what gate your train is departing on in advance. If you sneak around the NJ Transit level, you can sometimes get to the track before anybody else does (including the train).”

* “Take late-night Amtraks from Penn Station; if you take it late enough, you don’t
lose a night out, and the fare is much cheaper. Then, you get to walk through an empty Penn Station, and if you live in a city that’s the center of a metropolitan area, you get to see the commuters taking the morning train to work. Of course, you can’t get express, but if it works out for your schedule it’s pretty good, and you can have a bench to yourself to sleep until you get to the commuters.”

* “Don’t wait until the last minute! Slack just a couple of hours (i.e. buy your ticket less than like, 6 hours in advance) and a $60 bargain turns into a $92 rip-off. Granted, this is, $30 cheaper than usual, but still.”

Airports and Planes

* “If you’re flying out LaGuardia, take that M60 for 2 dollars. It’s a nice ride, too, visually speaking.”

* “Use Mobissimo to find discounted flights, but then go to the airline’s website and book the flight directly through the airline. Those services usually just search for cheap flights that are offered by the airline, so you can bypass their convenience charge that way.”

* “Don’t take a taxi to the airport, whatever you do.”

* “I hear it’s much faster to fly out of Newark than out of JFK if home

is out West. Like it’s one stop away from Penn Station on NJ Transit,

which is much more palatable than the epic subway ride on the A out to the hinterlands of Queens.”

* “For the flyers, JetBlue is cheap out of New York, and as far as I’ve been able to find out, not listed at all on the sites most people use to scan for cheap tickets. And if you want to go to Europe, you can still go round trip for under $550 with only twenty-four hours to go: book on Air India to London and then get RyanAir or EasyJet from there.”

* “Don’t take the A to JFK. It’s much better to switch for Times Square, hop onto the E, and take it out to Jamaica Center, which only takes like 22 minutes. (This is also the airport’s recommended route from all uptown points). The A is an endless slog to hell, and you don’t even get to ride the one good part: the two-mile causeway across Jamaica Bay.”

 

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25 Comments

  1. ct-er  

    while getting on metronorth at the 125th station saves you time, there's often only standing room left in a lot of the cars... unless you want to squeeze into the middle seat

  2. Another  

    fast way to get to JFK is to take the 1->96, 2/3-->34, LIRR-->air tran. Little more expensive, but the fastest way...I think.

  3. MEC

    you can save yourself about 40 minutes getting to JFK by switching to the LIRR to Jamaca Sataion at Penn. It costs about $10 more but you can make the entire trip in an hour on a good day, even though you should probably allow 1.5

  4. hahaha  

    im driving home bitches

  5. LCP

    Anyone else with upcoming term papers deciding to hold down the fort?

  6. westchester  

    it's nice when home is about 20 miles away.

  7. bergen county  

    if you're going to points in north jersey (bergen, union, essex counties), then you ought to consider taking the njt bus from the GWB. The bus station is actually in the middle of the roadway, so buses don't wait to leave the city, and the ride is definitely shorter than the train.

  8. bus to nowhere  

    Avoid greyhound coming off the new jersey turnpike on tourist days. Invariably, buses leaving on thursdays or fridays are always packed, and those returning on sundays are also a complete shitshow. Add to that the fact that you have about a 70% chance of spending over an hour just getting from the new york side of the tunnel to the start of the turnpike and its not worth it at all. If you still decide to brave the bus however, consider buying a non-refundable ticket. Its still valid for any bus on a particular route, but usually a good bit cheaper.

  9. yeah  

    why isn't the LIRR to JFK mentioned in the post?

  10. how long  

    should a cab to JFK take at rush hour?

  11. Westcheser part deux  

    I concur, living less than 20 minutes away is a beautiful thing.

  12. metro north  

    If you are taking the metro north Hudson Line (green), it's way way cheaper (and faster) to take the 1 to 225th street and then walk the block to the Marble Hill station.

  13. Atticus Nobler  

    The bicycle is oftentimes very crowded.

  14. mama says  

    buy your ticket before you get on the LIRR to Jamaica. costs less than 10 dollars.

  15. Elna

    commuter buses on jersey transit...the way to go if you don't have anything much to carry!

  16. your mom  

    Stop hating on Chinatown buses, you pretentious pricks! They function just fine and they're usually cheaper .

  17. me oh my

    as a chinatown bus addict (er, dependent), I must say that taking lucky star anytime that is not friday/sunday afternoon will be a very comfortable and safe experience compared to fung wah.

    also, greyhound is coming out with a new budget brand that will price seats based on availability, so the first person to reserve a seat for a given ride will only be charged $1.

    flushing/brooklyn chinatown bus wizzard: impart your knowledge.

  18. A Pro  

    to JFK:

    If you're cheap, take the E from Times Sqaure to Jamaica and the AirTrain to your terminal. $7 last I checked.

    For a bit more, as stated, LIRR it to Jamaica from Penn, then AirTrain. Totals under $20 I believe.

    Westchester/CT:

    MetroNorth is a tough call. M60 to 125th is sometimes quick, but there are never seats on the train, and if you miss your train Grand Central is a much nicer place to sit (and booze!) than the 125th street station. If you really love to be at 125th, and traffic is awful that time of day, you can take the 1 to 96th, then use the uptown 2-3 and walk the 2-3 blocks east from the 125th street stop.

    Bonus points if you miss your train at GCT, catch an uptown 4 or 5 and catch it at 125th.

  19. Give more advice  

    on Newark!!! Argh, I hate flying out of Jersey...

    • meee  

      1/2/3 to Penn Station, $2

      NJ Transit train to Newark Airport station, $14

      Monorail to terminal, free

      Takes 1:10 hrs on average, but allow up to 1:30 hrs because sometimes you need to wait up to 30 mins in Penn station for a train that makes a stop at Newark airport.

      Trains that make the stop are designated on the departures board as EWR.

  20. alexw

    Man, I am sick of people hating on the Fung Wah. I have taken no fewer than 50 trips on it during my 3+ years here, and have had no major issues. The bus is often cramped, but that's pretty much it.

    Meanwhile, I've taken one Greyhound that crapped out about 20 minutes outside of Manhattan (result was a 10 hour trip to Boston) and another that was just completely cancelled, leaving me stranded at Port Authority Bus Terminal at 4:30 AM.

    I think it's that damn hive mind thing. Don't listen to these idiots, because the Fung Wah is A-OK.

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