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By Bus

Busing to and from New York City from major East Coast cities has become the single most cost-effective way to get into town. Originally, these were cheap bus services created by Chinese-Americans as a means of getting between New York City and Boston, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C., Budget travelers soon discovered the bus lines, and now a number of companies offer service between most of the major cities in the East (and as far west as Buffalo and Toronto) for a fraction of what you’d pay by train or plane. While the Chinatown buses remain the cheapest, we’d recommend that you check out the newer, larger services, which are both more comfortable and offer amenities like Wi-Fi, as well as a safer ride (Chinatown bus lines made the news in early 2011 after two fatal crashes).

From Philadelphia, the average ride might range from $10–$20; for the other two cities you’ll pay $15 to $30, but there are times when specials reduce the fares to just $1. For information about the major lines (Megabus and Boltbus, as well as the Chinatown buses) as well as fare information and bookings, visit the well-designed agency site called BusJunction (www.busjunction.com).

You will probably wait for the bus to pick you up, or depart from a street corner, rather than a bus station, which some people might count as a bonus if you’re not fond of bus stations.For individual company websites, visit:

  • Megabus (tel. 877/GO2-MEGA [462-6342]; www.megabus.com) 
  • Boltbus (tel. 877/BOLTBUS [265-8287]; www.boltbus.com) 
  • Vamoose (tel. 877/393-2828; www.vamoosebus.com) 
  • DC2NY (tel. 888/888-DCNY or 202/332-2691; www.dc2ny.com)

By Car

From the New Jersey Turnpike (I-95) and points west, there are three Hudson River crossings to the city’s West Side: the Holland Tunnel (lower Manhattan), the Lincoln Tunnel (Midtown), and the George Washington Bridge (upper Manhattan). From upstate New York, take the New York State Thruway (I-87), which crosses the Hudson River on the Tappan Zee Bridge and becomes the Major Deegan Expressway (I-87) through the Bronx. For the East Side, continue to the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge (formerly called the Triborough Bridge) and then down the FDR Drive. For the West Side, take the Cross Bronx Expressway (I-95) to the Henry Hudson Parkway, or the Taconic State Parkway to the Saw Mill River Parkway to the Henry Hudson Parkway south.

From New England, the New England Thruway (I-95) connects with the Bruckner Expressway (I-278), which leads to the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge and the FDR Drive on the East Side. For the West Side, take the Bruckner to the Cross Bronx Expressway (I-95) to the Henry Hudson Parkway south. Note that you’ll have to pay tolls along some of these roads and at most crossings. If your state has an E-ZPass program (www.ezpass.com), as most states in the Northeast do, your pass will allow you to go through the designated E-ZPass lanes.

Once you arrive in Manhattan, park your car in a garage (expect to pay $20–$45 per day) and leave it there. Don’t use your car for traveling within the city. Public transportation, taxis, and walking will easily get you where you want to go without the headaches of parking, gridlock, and dodging crazy cabbies. 

By Train

Amtrak (tel. 800/USA-RAIL [872-7245]; www.amtrak.com) runs frequent service to New York City’s Penn Station, on Seventh Avenue between 31st and 33rd streets, where you can get a taxi, subway, or bus to your hotel. To get the best rates, book early (as much as 6 months in advance) and travel on weekends. If you’re traveling to New York from a city along Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor—such as Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore, or Washington, D.C.—Amtrak may be your best travel bet now that they’ve rolled out their high-speed Acela trains. The Acela Express trains cut travel time from D.C. down to 2 1/2 hours, and travel time from Boston to a lightning-quick 3 hours.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.