Bolt Bus Reinvents Bus Travel

By Rachel – VGP Guest Blogger

There are many travel options between Boston to Manhattan and as a former Boston resident I have tried most of them. My preference was always Amtrak, but for at least $100 less Bolt Bus was a great alternative.

Copyright: Bolt Bus Website Homepage

Copyright: Bolt Bus Website Homepage

This week, Bolt Bus is expanding its service to include three  cities on the West Coast. Their new route stops in Los Angeles, San Jose and Oakland, California. My thoughts on the bus are that when it’s good, it’s good (speedy, cheap and comfortable)  – and when it’s bad, it’s bad (think 8 hours in traffic on a Friday afternoon rolling the dice with your seatmate). For those West Coasters jumping on the bandwagon, though you can’t control traffic there are a few things you can do to make your trip more comfortable.

  1. Buy tickets online and as early as possible at Prices will range from $1 (yup, $1!) to $25 or so pending on how early you book. While you are there, sign up for their rewards program which is buy eight tickets get one free. The rewards program also gives you priority seating- a huge perk to not be stuck in the back of the bus or by the bathroom. Print your ticket at home as it is both your departure and return.
  2. Arrive early.  The BoltBus policy is that your seat is only guaranteed if you arrive a minimum of 15 minutes prior to departure to claim your seat.  Any unclaimed seats go to walk-up and standby passengers 5 minutes prior to departure.  To get on standby, you need to talk to the attendant managing the BoltBus boarding process.
  3. Pack accordingly.  There is no weight on bags and their seems to be an informal baggage policy that you can bring whatever you can carry. Your larger bag goes underneath the bus so you may want to consider not putting anything fragile or valuable in them. You can’t bring anything like a small roller bag on the bus and most people just bring a laptop bag or backpack. A great Bolt Bus perk is the free Wifi and outlets on every seat. I’ve found the Wifi to be pretty reliable. And the Bolt Bus usually doesn’t stop- so you may want to stock up on snacks for the ride.

If you are looking to plan a bus trip in the near future there are multiple new websites that allow you to search multiple bus and train lines similar to searching for flights on Orbitz, Kayak, or Expedia.  Wanderu searches bus and train trips in the Northeast across multiple companies such as BoltBus, Megabus and GoBus.  I liked that the filters show which services have Wi-Fi, power outlets, extra leg room, free water, loyalty rewards and are “green certified”.

Copyright: Wanderu Website

Copyright: Wanderu Website Homepage


Bustripping is another site that searches for routes in 163 United States cities, four European cities and Vancouver, Canada.

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