I’m running my 20-miler in New York City tomorrow morning. I know, I probably sound like a crazy person traveling to a different city to do my long run, but I’m running the last 20 miles of the New York City marathon. How cool is that?!
I’m taking the BoltBus down to NYC, so I figured it would be the perfect opportunity to share my tips for riding it.
Buy your ticket in advance online. You can purchase ticket online at www.boltbus.com until three hours before departure, but the earlier you purchase your ticket, the better the price you get. If you book a few months in advance, a one way ticket from Boston to New York City, for instance, costs as little as $8.00. Sometimes, there’s even $1 fares! The closer you get to your departure date, the higher the price. I once paid $22.00 each way, which is a lot for the BoltBus.
Sign up for the Bolt Rewards program. Bolt Rewards is a free frequent rider program that rewards passengers with a free one-way ticket after eight trips on the BoltBus. That’s great, right? Well, the real reason you should sign up is because you get priority seating on the bus, which means you get the best seats and don’t end up sitting near the bathroom.
See the A-03 on my ticket below? The folks with A tickets board the bus first. If you buy a ticket online without creating a BoltBus account or logging in, you get a C ticket, which means you board last and you might end up sitting near the stinky bathroom for many hours.
Hold onto your ticket. After you purchase your tickets online, you will receive an email confirmation that also serves as your boarding pass. (You can print it out or show the email to the driver to board the bus.) BoltBus doesn’t collect your ticket when you board, so make sure you put it in a safe place for your return. Your BoltBus ticket serves as both your departure and return ticket.
Arrive early. Of course, you don’t want to miss your bus, but BoltBus only guarantees you a seat on your ticketed scheduled bus provided you arrive a minimum of 15 minutes prior to departure to claim your seat. At 5 minutes prior to departure, any unclaimed seats are released to walk-up and standby passengers, which means if you cut it too close to the departure time, you might not have a seat on the bus even if you have a ticket.
If your plans change, consider standby. The public transportation in Boston is so unreliable, I often ride standby to New York City. If I arrive early to South Station, I’ll go standby to get on an earlier bus. If I miss my bus (like this time), I’ll go standby on the next BoltBus to NYC. I’ve gone standby 3 or 4 times now, and I have always got on a bus. And the best part: it doesn’t cost any extra money!
When you decide that you want to go standby, make sure you talk to the BoltBus attendant and get your name on the list. If there are open seats on the bus, the attendant uses the list to determine who gets the seats. Basically, you want to be #1 or #2 on it. Although, I was once #7 on the list and still got on the bus. Even still, talk to the attendant as soon as you make your decision.
Use the bathroom as soon as you get on the bus. On a 4.5-hour ride to NYC, it’s pretty much guaranteed that I will have to go to the bathroom at some point, so I always use the bathroom as soon as I get on the bus. The bathroom is usually immaculate and smells pretty, but toward the end of the ride, it’s not always so pleasant.
Bring your laptop or iPad. There’s free wifi and outlets on all of the buses, so bring your laptop or iPad to watch movies or use the internet. It makes time fly by. If you get motion sickness (like I do), wait to use your laptop until you are out of the city. The stop and go in traffic always makes me sick, but once the bus is on open road, it’s smooth sailing.
Bring snacks. The BoltBus doesn’t usually stop, so if you want something to eat or drink, make sure you bring your own. Eating and drinking is permitted on the bus.
Dress in layers. The temperature on the BoltBus is pretty unpredictable. I’ve had rides when I’m shivering cold and sweating on others, so I always wear a few different layers on the bus. If you’re really uncomfortable temperature-wise, just tell the driver. He/she will mostly always adjust it.