• Tips for Riding the BoltBus

    October 15, 2011

    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    { 44 comments… read them below or add one }

    ifelicious October 15, 2011 at 9:34 am

    great pointers for riding Bolt Bus. i haven’t ridden it before and they seem to be a great alternative in the northeast region as opposed to the midwest. i’m going to share this link so my other east coast friends can benefit!

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    Lynda @ healthy Hoboken girl October 15, 2011 at 9:45 am

    I never realized the bargain price!! Great tips!! Have fun on the run!!

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    Luv What You Do October 15, 2011 at 9:52 am

    Enjoy your 20 miler!
    I did the the last 10 miles of the Chi Marathon the weekend before and it really helped me mentally to push through those last few miles!

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    Hilliary @ Happily Ever Healthy October 15, 2011 at 9:52 am

    Great pointers for riding the bus! We have something similar in the Midwest called the mega bus! It is a great way to travel short distances, and so cheap!

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    Lily October 15, 2011 at 9:53 am

    I’ve been wanting to try the bolt bus for awhile! Thanks for all of the great tips!

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    Allie @ Fitness Class Fanatic October 15, 2011 at 10:00 am

    Nice advice! Enjoy the 20 miler here in NYC!

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    katie @ KatieDid October 15, 2011 at 10:02 am

    Good luck on your big run, what an awesome idea to run it in the city!
    I just took a megabus for the first time last month and really liked the experience… these are awesome tips seriously! Especially the hold on to your ticket…. on my return trip i hadn’t thought to look for my ticket until 10 minutes before the bus was leaving and I couldn’t find it. I went into panic mode but luckily could pull up my email last minute to get the confirmation number!

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    jillian October 15, 2011 at 10:09 am

    Hi Tina – Is this your last long run before you start to taper? I’m doing New York too, but I’ve been injured and have missed 3 long runs. I’m hoping to be able to do 20 next weekend and then taper from there, but i’m getting anxious and frustrated. it’s not my first marathon, and my training has been really solid up until 2 weeks ago (i did a few 18s and a 19 mile run), so I know I can do it… but injuries are the worst :/

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    Tina October 16, 2011 at 7:06 am

    @jillian: Yep, it’s my last long long run before the marathon. I’ll taper for the next few weeks. Injuries are the worst. Hang in there, lady!

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    Kristin @ STUFT Mama October 15, 2011 at 10:11 am

    Hey that Bolt Bus is cool! I’ve never heard of such a thing. Good luck in your 20-miler. Can’t wait to hear about it! :)

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    Sam @ Samantha in Training October 15, 2011 at 10:13 am

    Goodluck on the run!!! I’ve never taken the Bolt Bus but I have taken the Peter Pan bus – it was around $60 for a round trip I think? I’ll definitely need to sign up for the Bolts reward program and take it next time I go to NYC. I’ve missed my bus before and man was it nerve racking! Luckily, we got the last Acela train back to Boston. Acela is awesome but it was soooo pricey!

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    Cait's Plate October 15, 2011 at 10:26 am

    Ah!!! So exciting! Good luck!

    Gotta love the BoltBus – I know the NYC to Boston route all too well! Haha.

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    Erica @ For the Sake of Cake October 15, 2011 at 10:27 am

    Good luck on your run tomorrow!

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    Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat October 15, 2011 at 10:35 am

    Good luck on the 20 miler tomorrow Tina! I’ve never even heard of the Bolt Bus, but I am grateful to have these tips in case I ever do ride it!

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    Megan @ Life As Megan KNows It October 15, 2011 at 10:57 am

    Great Tips! I am taking the bolt bus to Boston in a few weeks I also took it to Philly for the HLS.

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    Lara @ six times the yum October 15, 2011 at 11:32 am

    Thank you for the tips! I want to visit some friends in NYC, but I’ve been a bit nervous about taking the bus and the train is $$$, so I haven’t gone in a long time. Your tips make me confident to go! Good luck with your 20-miler! I’m sure its extra motivation being in a fun location and getting more familiar with the marathon course!

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    Hope October 15, 2011 at 11:42 am

    Good luck on your run! These are really great tips. I’ve always wanted to try riding the Bolt Bus to NYC. I live in the Philly area and to take the train to NYC is super expensive. This would be a great option. :)

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    Aine @ Something to Chew Over October 15, 2011 at 11:44 am

    Great tips!

    Have a great run :)

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    Margaret October 15, 2011 at 11:48 am

    Are you running the FRNY’s Blue Line Run tomorrow or running it on your own? I’m signed up for the Blue Line Run and for the NY Flyers run (which isn’t the last 20 miles, but takes you over two of the bridges in the race) and I can’t decide which to go to…maybe I’ll see you out there!

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    Alaina October 15, 2011 at 12:45 pm

    Thanks for the great tips! I’m thinking about taking the bus down to visit my cousin in NYC.

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    Heather @ Get Healthy With Heather October 15, 2011 at 12:47 pm

    Great tips! and have an awesome 20 miler!

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    Lauren @ What Lauren Likes October 15, 2011 at 12:55 pm

    Great tips! I’ve never even heard of this before :)

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    Molly @ RDexposed October 15, 2011 at 1:03 pm

    The name “Bolt Bus” sounds epic!

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    Tropical Eats October 15, 2011 at 1:31 pm

    loveee bolt and megabus. can’t beat how cheap they are for fun little weekend trips.

    im doing that run too tomorrow. Hope to see you there!

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    Khushboo October 15, 2011 at 2:05 pm

    If I ever run a marathon, NY, London & Paris are on my list…have a great time :)!

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    Rebecca October 15, 2011 at 2:19 pm

    I take Bolt often because I’m from MA but go to school in NYC. It’s dirty and oh-so nasty. As of late I’ve been taking Worldwide Bus to/from Newton (it stops in Cambridge, too) because it’s somewhat on-time (compared to Bolt which is ALWAYS running behind schedule) and it doesn’t make stops. Every time I take Bolt the driver stops at a Sbarro or something, which drives me absolutely nuts!

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    Kayla @ Learningtosayyes.com October 15, 2011 at 2:28 pm

    Hi there… lurker blog reader here who lives in NYC. I just emailed you but if you but if you would like 2 jars of biscoff spread as a post 20mi run treat I am happy to share the ones I have and am not going to use :)

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    Katie October 15, 2011 at 2:33 pm

    Those are good tips! I take the Megabus from Chicago to Ann Arbor to visit my parents a lot, it looks similar! Gook luck on your 20 miler!

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    The Healthy Engineer October 15, 2011 at 3:03 pm

    That boarding system is exactly like that of Southwest! I have so much experience with flying back and forth on Southwest…I should be a VIP guest or something.

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    J3nn (Jenn's Menu and Lifestyle Blog) October 15, 2011 at 3:29 pm

    Wish we had a Bolt Bus from upstate to NYC! :( Wifi and outlets sound awesome.

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    Annette @ EnjoyYourHealthyLife October 15, 2011 at 3:45 pm

    OKay now that is a great way to ride to another city! I totally would use this bus if I lived on the East coast :)

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    Girl on the Run October 15, 2011 at 3:58 pm

    Have fun with your run!!! Great tips btw!

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    Katie @ Peace Love and Oats October 15, 2011 at 4:02 pm

    I once missed my Amtrak train and had to go wait 2 hours to take a greyhound bus! Now I’m always freakishly early!

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    Joelle (On A Pink Typewriter) October 15, 2011 at 4:03 pm

    Great tips! I usually ride Megabus, but they are almost always running late so I’ve been considering switching to Bolt for whenever I take my next trip to NYC. Have a fun time in NY! :)

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    Haley @ Fit, Young, and Fabulous October 15, 2011 at 4:24 pm

    Ah! I wish I could run long distances! After about 2 miles, I’m pooped!!! Any tips!? Will it get easier?! Good luck on your run! (((:

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    joan October 15, 2011 at 4:48 pm

    I was smiling when I was reading the bathroom tip. Exactly the same thing on planes. :)

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    Hannah October 15, 2011 at 10:47 pm

    My long-haul trip tip is always have high quality dark chocolate on hand :)

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    Jamie October 16, 2011 at 10:50 am

    Thanks for all of the great tips! My husband and I want to go to NYC next summer but I want to try to go to Boston too. This would be a great option for both of us.

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    Whitney October 16, 2011 at 9:15 pm

    I don’t know how I never knew about Bolt Rewards! I take it often from NYC to Boston (Mega Bus too). Thanks for the tip.

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    Chrissy D October 17, 2011 at 11:30 pm

    I have taken the Bolt Bus many times back and forth from Boston to NYC and NYC to DC, was a pleasant ride, very chilly, but went by fast! I’ve also taken the Mega Bus to Boston, not D.C and it was nice, but I think Bolt Bus by far is much nicer!!

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    Angela @ The Chicken Scoop October 18, 2011 at 12:10 pm

    That is awesome! The bus from Atlantic City to New York is terrible. You are never guaranteed a spot no matter how early you booked because there are multiple pick up points (so if you are first in line but the bus filled up at the last stop, oh well!) and its $50 round trip. It is ok if you would rather not drive but I’ve gotten really proficient at the 3 hour trip!
    ~Ang

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    Todd Hatton June 12, 2012 at 6:57 pm

    Thanks for the tips! Unfortunately, I found your tips after I bought the tickets so I am boarding last. Ugh!

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    Scott June 18, 2012 at 1:17 pm

    BoltBus offers the worst service! They have horrible customer service – and simply stated, they don’t give a damn about their customers.

    I bought a ticket and had a reservation to ride the BoltBus. I was at the bus stop 15 min prior to departure and was prepared to stow my belongings underneath and board the bus. However, when I attempted to go on the bus, I was stopped and told that there were no more seats available and that I would have to find another form of transportation to get to my destination.

    Here’s the way BoltBus advertises how they operate:
    You purchase tickets online. After purchase you receive an email confirmation that also serves as your boarding pass and a receipt for your purchase. They claim they don’t oversell schedules so the boarding pass will guarantee you a seat on your ticketed schedule provided you arrive for your scheduled bus a minimum of 15 minutes prior to the scheduled departure time to claim your seat.
    How does the boarding process work?
    In the top left hand corner of your email confirmation is a large letter. This letter designates which boarding group you are assigned to. Customers board the bus based on assigned boarding group (A, B, or C) with our loyalty program members boarding first, followed by customers who purchased tickets online.

    However, when it was time to board the bus, the BoltBus representative did not call out the letter designations (I had an A) and instead, this person (Named Jackson) allowed anyone to board. Since I had 2 suitcases, I could not join the mass of people that swarmed the entrance to get on the bus. I put my suitcases under the bus and then joined the back of the crowd to try to board.

    By the time I made it to the entrance of the bus, everyone else had already boarded and there wasn’t a seat left for me. MY RESERVATION TICKET was supposed to reserve me a seat! I turned to Jackson and said, “Here, here’s my reservation…here’s my ticket, now, I need a seat.”
    Jackson’s response, “There’s nothing I can do…all the seats are taken.”

    I repeated myself and said, “But I bought a ticket, I have a reserved seat, now get me on that bus!” At this point, Jackson got right up in my face and said, “You listen to me! There are no seats left, and you are NOT taking that bus! How much more clear do I have to be?”

    Well, this is no way to treat customers! I ended up having to take AMTRAK to get to my final destination.

    Upon trying to contact BoltBus – (877-265-8287) – to try and explain my story – they said, there was nothing that anyone could do and that b/c I wasn’t fast enough pushing my way through the mass of people, that I missed out. When I asked to speak to a supervisor, they said that I wasn’t allowed to speak to one. I asked why not and they said “BECAUSE I SAID SO!” And then they hung up the phone on me.

    They are the worst company and I would never use them again!

    If anyone else has had any problems using BoltBus – contact the CEO of the company – his name is Peter Picknelly. His cell phone # is 413-246-8600 and his e-mail address is peter@peterpanbus.com. Or you can also try and contact Peter at 413-781-2900

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    Shay August 13, 2012 at 7:18 pm

    Can I try to go on standby on the Boltbus if I have a ticket for the next day?

    Reply

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