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30 minutes before is probably excessive unless you are going standby on a bus you're not ticketed for. 15 minutes has been plenty.

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Both the Tripper and Bolt websites state that they only guarantee your reservation until 15 minutes before departure.

Tripper says it may offer your seat to a standby passenger at that time.

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Passengers should arrive at least 15 minutes before departure time. Reservations are not guaranteed beyond that time and your seat may be offered to standby passengers. When you are late you lose your seat and the funds you used to purchase the seat.

Bolt says it will release your seat to standby passengers at 5 minutes before departure.

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Buying tickets online - You can purchase tickets online at www.boltbus.com until 30 minutes before departure (for example, we would stop selling the 3pm schedule at 2:30 pm). After purchase, you will receive an email confirmation that also serves as your boarding pass and a receipt for your purchase. We don’t oversell our schedules so this boarding pass will guarantee you a seat on your ticketed schedule provided you arrive at least 15 minutes prior to the scheduled departure time to claim your seat. At 5 minutes prior to departure, any unclaimed seats are released to walk-up and standby passengers.

 

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I would not plan on doing any work on WIFI.  I generally find it fairly poor quality and when you get into NJ you loose your personal Cell Data as well at times.  The bus quality depends on the network and how overloaded the bus users make the connection. 

One benefit of arriving early is a better seat selection.  Most buses do not have reserved seats so people line up in advance and board based on their position inline.  So if you arrive early you are more likely to get your preferred window or isle seat and be near the front of the bus farther away from the bathroom.

I've not taken MegaBus recently but I've read that they now offer prepaid seat locations.

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To update I have travelled to Northern Jersey/NYC many times by car, train, bus.  If I don’t feel like driving, the bus is remarkably more value laden than the train.   Tremendous price difference, far easier to board, far easier for access from the burbs.

Not as comfortable, but comfortable enough and the difference is worth the price.  Considering door to door travel it might be as fast as the train considering g where you live.    

On the bus I’ve found a number of folks that take advantage of lower prices and suburban locations to take one day trips to NYC, see a show, stay over one night, dine.

Now that is a great idea. 

Boy oh boy though.   I need to re read about dining near Penn Starion.

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1 hour ago, DaveO said:

On the bus I’ve found a number of folks that take advantage of lower prices and suburban locations to take one day trips to NYC, see a show, stay over one night, dine.

Now that is a great idea. 

And it's so much fun using the restroom, too!

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39 minutes ago, DonRocks said:

And it's so much fun using the restroom, too!

In all seriousness, and I’m sure multiple trip users would agree,  use a restroom before you leave.  It’s usable on the bus but far from optimal.   For a price difference that is ordinarily +$100 to +$150 less than the train/per trip it is well worth it especially for those that travel often

It does make Broadway and other features more accessible than I previously thought

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21 hours ago, DaveO said:

In all seriousness, and I’m sure multiple trip users would agree,  use a restroom before you leave.  It’s usable on the bus but far from optimal.   For a price difference that is ordinarily +$100 to +$150 less than the train/per trip it is well worth it especially for those that travel often

It does make Broadway and other features more accessible than I previously thought

I took the BestBus last year. Its the "expensive one", $30. Their gimmick is they give you a free bottle of water when boarding. They drop you a block from Penn Station. In my case, they dropped us right in the middle of a crowd of ComicCon people- blue and pink people. It occurred to me, being from New York, that this was not out of the ordinary for the city. I thought about tourists from the Midwest coming to Manhattan for the first time and their reaction to this craziness. 

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7 minutes ago, Mark Slater said:

I thought about tourists from the Midwest coming to Manhattan for the first time and their reaction to this craziness. 

Midwest? How about Charlotte. I moved to NYC in 1985, and was dumped off at the Port Authority with baggage, and was just standing there, dazed and confused.

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4 hours ago, Mark Slater said:

I took the BestBus last year. Its the "expensive one", $30. Their gimmick is they give you a free bottle of water when boarding. They drop you a block from Penn Station. In my case, they dropped us right in the middle of a crowd of ComicCon people- blue and pink people. It occurred to me, being from New York, that this was not out of the ordinary for the city. I thought about tourists from the Midwest coming to Manhattan for the first time and their reaction to this craziness. 

I've taken the bus a fair amt in the last few years.  Many of the trips are on short notice.  Driving tires me out and some of the trips are going up and down in a day or two.  I've taken the buses from a range of $30-75/trip I think, some with volume discounts.  So much less expensive than the train when having to arrange things on short notice.  Its just not bad and the price differential between that and the train is enormous.   Either all or almost all the buses drop you off near Penn Station/MSG.

As to the craziness in the city.....I miss it at times.

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4 hours ago, DaveO said:

I've taken the bus a fair amt in the last few years.  Many of the trips are on short notice.  Driving tires me out and some of the trips are going up and down in a day or two.  I've taken the buses from a range of $30-75/trip I think, some with volume discounts.  So much less expensive than the train when having to arrange things on short notice.  Its just not bad and the price differential between that and the train is enormous.   Either all or almost all the buses drop you off near Penn Station/MSG.

As to the craziness in the city.....I miss it at times.

The bus is a good value and I have never had a bad experience. I hear you about hating the long drives. 

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The bus is terrible if you are arriving any time where there may be a backup at the tunnels though. I was in a long distance relationship DC-NYC for several years and getting into NYC between 3-8 on a Friday on the bus was torture. It added 2 hours to the trip. I sucked it up and took the train usually. Got a bottle of wine and some cheese and made it a party. Arrived pleasantly buzzed and in time for a late dinner. 

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54 minutes ago, Rieux said:

The bus is terrible if you are arriving any time where there may be a backup at the tunnels though. I was in a long distance relationship DC-NYC for several years and getting into NYC between 3-8 on a Friday on the bus was torture. It added 2 hours to the trip. I sucked it up and took the train usually. Got a bottle of wine and some cheese and made it a party. Arrived pleasantly buzzed and in time for a late dinner. 

Love it. 

It is true that if traffic is backed up around the Lincoln Tunnel it can add a lot of time to a trip.  

Hmmm.  I had a long distance relationship in NYC.  Used to drive up most of the time.  Finding a parking space could take 10 minutes or an hour....plus it is frustrating as hell.  Next morning had to get up early b/c of alternate side of the street parking.   Drive around for up to another hour sometimes to find another space, or be very early and very lucky and grab a space ASAP.   Also used to have late dinners on a Friday--small spaces, tight quarters, but I recall the food, liquor and especially the company were pretty good---for a while.  ;)

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I'm guessing that none of you advocating for the bus are 6'3".  If you are, it sucks. And you can get a ticket for the train, the last humane mode of transportation, for $50 if you plan at least a month in advance.  That said, if I have to get to DC on very short notice, I often drive or take the bus. But I definitely prefer the train, even at the non-discounted rate of about $130 (it jumps up to like $300 if you book right before the trip, which is ridiculous).  And if I'm not paying, I take the Acela.  Flying has always struck me as kinda stupid, but I'll probably try it eventually. 

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14 hours ago, RWBooneJr said:

I'm guessing that none of you advocating for the bus are 6'3".  If you are, it sucks. And you can get a ticket for the train, the last humane mode of transportation, for $50 if you plan at least a month in advance.  That said, if I have to get to DC on very short notice, I often drive or take the bus. But I definitely prefer the train, even at the non-discounted rate of about $130 (it jumps up to like $300 if you book right before the trip, which is ridiculous).  And if I'm not paying, I take the Acela.  Flying has always struck me as kinda stupid, but I'll probably try it eventually. 

Flying is pointless. There have been at least two occasions where a ground hold was announced for a Delta shuttle flight I was on, and I was able to get off the plane, get to union station, get on a train and STILL beat the flight.

Budget travel aside, the train is absolutely the way to go.

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