Affordable transportation on the northeast corridor

What’s the most comfortable, convenient way to travel along the Northeast Corridor? Well, I’d probably choose Amtrak if my expenses were reimbursed, speed and comfort being somewhat superior and airports being a pain. But since I normally travel these routes on my own dime, I prefer the bus – preferably MegaBus or Bolt Bus, because I’m all about convenience and bang for the buck.

Options have never been better getting to and from any of the five cities on the Corridor. No matter how strapped you are, you can find an comfortable and affordable mode of transit between Boston and DC. Let’s examine them.

Amtrack one-way fares from Philly to Washington DC start at $70 for the 1-hour, 50-min trip on the Northeast Regional train, up to $157 for the Acela Express (which knocks a 20 minutes off your travel time).

Compare that to the same trip on a MegaBus. Prices one-way range from $17 to $21 if you want to travel in the next week. Book three weeks in advance and they drop to $5 and $7 each way.

You get free wifi and outlets for your laptop and smartphone, comfy seats, a double-decker bus with awesome views upstairs that takes you directly from 30th St. Station to Union Station – same pick-up and drop-off as Amtrak. (Until recently, MegaBus dropped off at 10th and H.)

Drawbacks: Ride takes longer and arrival time is fairly unpredictable due to traffic. (It’s described as two hours but usually takes 30 minutes longer, at least.)

Comparisons can’t be made to Bolt Bus for that route, because it doesn’t travel between DC and Philly. It’s routes along the NE Corridor are very NYC-centric. But it takes you to or from NYC from all our cities – Boston, Phillly, Baltimore, and DC – and prices are comparable.