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“You go Philly twenty dollar?”

August 5, 2009

Mike’s post on trains brought to my mind a similar subject that is near and dear to my heart: wifi-capable bus services and their ancestor, the Chinatown bus.

Seriously, this happened.

I spend a fair amount traveling to and from New York City for both business and pleasure. Because I am not a wealthy, stodgy executive, I generally try to spend as little money as possible on these travels. For years, I relied on one of the many Chinatown bus services that runs between Philly and New York. Those of you who have spent any time living in cities in the Northeast Corridor know what I’m talking about. For twenty bucks, bus lines like Fung Wah and New Century Travel will get you from your city’s Chinatown to virtually any other Chinatown on the East Coast…assuming you can effectively pantomime your destination to the hectoring, English-challenged saleswomen who distribute the tickets.

Chinatown buses are cheap, but the risks are more serious than accidentally boarding a bus for Newhaven instead of New York City. Their buses frequently fail safety inspections; they’ve been known to crashfall apart on the highway, and even explode.

Fortunately, I now have alternatives to the altogether too-adventurous Chinatown bus experience. Megabus and Boltbus were founded in 2006 by Coach USA and in 2008 by Peter Pan and Greyhound, respectively.  Designed to compete with the Chinatown services, Boltbus and Megabus offer the same cheapo rates along with modern amenities like seat belts and functioning lavatories. More importantly, both lines offer free wireless internet and power outlets for laptops. We all know that the internet is a series of tubes, which explains how it might be piped onto trains. That bus passengers now have internet access too is not only really, really useful to people like me who do lots of online work, but pretty darn futuristic to boot. Even my father, who actually is a wealthy, stodgy executive, has abandoned his internetless Amtrak trains for Megabus.

Oh, and Boltbus just installed leatherette seats on their buses. What more could you possibly want from your slightly-shady budget transport service?

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