Race to New York

Planes, trains and automobiles—what's the best way to get from DC to New York on a Friday night?

Seven Washingtonian staffers left our downtown DC office on a Friday afternoon and headed to New York City—going seven different ways. Their goal: meet for an 8 pm dinner in Manhattan. Here’s how long each trip took door-to-door and what it cost in money, time, and aggravation.

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Highs and Lows

BoltBus

High: Seats had ample legroom, and the bus was quiet except for one college kid on his cell.

Low: Bus took a long detour around traffic. The AC froze our rider’s window-side arm; it was hard for those in window seats to plug in an electronic device; spotty wi-fi.

Vamoose

Low: About ten minutes before scheduled departure, our tester received an e-mail saying the bus was delayed 45 minutes. Once en route, passengers were chatty and some children whiny.

High: The bus was clean, and our rider’s seat had an outlet.

MegaBus

High: As with BoltBus and Vamoose, check-in was easy, the bus was clean, and the seats were roomy.

Low: As on the other buses, wi-fi was spotty. The upper level of this double-decker can seem as if it’s swaying—you may feel nauseated if you sit up top.

Car

Low: Our staffer who drove sat in traffic on DC’s New York Avenue—it took an hour to make it out of downtown. In Manhattan, it cost $38 to park overnight.

High: On the upside, he could listen to whatever he wanted on the radio—and sing along in peace.

Amtrak Regional

High: The trip itself was fairly uneventful and pleasant.

Low: Arriving at New York’s Penn Station was a different story: The line for a taxi was long and didn’t budge after 25 minutes. So our traveler hoofed it a few blocks in the heat and hailed a cab.

Acela

Low: Our tester’s seatmate sang to himself the entire trip. Also unfortunate: “The seat was hard; it reminded me of a dentist’s chair. And bring layers—the train was freezing.”

High: If you get hungry, the cafe car’s cheese plate is a good bet.

US Airways

High: Our tester booked a flight just three days before her departure, and there was little difference between coach fare ($418) and first class ($457). She opted for first class, and it was smooth sailing.

Low: The cab from LaGuardia Airport to Manhattan cost $40.