Column: Travel like a king to the Empire State

Column: Travel like a king to the Empire State

There are four words I have a hard time swallowing each holiday season when I’m planning a trip home: “You’re taking the bus.”

Against my will, I have become somewhat accustomed to this sort of punishment, though there have been times I can scheme my way out of it by complaining I have too much laundry or promising, “Sorry, your Christmas present is just too big to fit on the bus, I guess you are just going to have to come and pick it up yourself, and, uh, might as well pick me up, too.” But these strategies only work once in a blue moon, leaving me riding the bus home to New York more times than not (and more times than I would like to remember).

For the large number of Northeastern students who make the trip from Boston to New York City to see the fam or just for a weekend vacation fairly regularly, there are a few obvious options. First, there is the Peter Pan/Greyhound bus line. This relatively nice and inexpensive bus gets you from Beantown to the Big Apple for anywhere from $18 to $30 one way, depending on how you purchase the tickets and whether or not it is a direct trip.

The next option, the Amtrak train, is a little expensive. Regional service for the train takes almost four and a half hours and can cost anywhere from $54 to $104, according to an Amtrak representative. Direct trips cost a little more, with prices beginning at $95 and going up to $117.

Student discounts are available for both Amtrak and Peter Pan/Greyhound by purchasing the Student Advantage Card for $20. Reservations for Amtrak must be made at least three days in advance and will save 15 percent on regional trips any day of the week and on express trips only on Saturdays and Sundays. And for Peter Pan/Greyhound, you can also save 15 percent on selected destination walk-up fares.

Last, but certainly not least, is the infamous Fung Wah bus which leaves from South Station every hour and speeds to NYC in four hours. The sometimes overcrowded and smokey bus costs only $15 each way, and you can be guaranteed the bus driver will get you there as fast as humanly possible.

However, in getting you to your destination this quickly, sometimes the bus can leave much to be desired as far as traveling in comfort goes, but what do you expect for $15?

But why not try something different for a change? Travel in luxury your next trip home. Picture first-class accommodations where you don’t have a chair war with the person behind you while trying to take a nap. Imagine actually having a place to do your homework and even use your laptop with wireless Internet. Imagine an actual attendant serving you a meal.

If you thought these accommodations were only found on the first class section of airplanes, think again. LimoLiners is a brilliant, new luxurious bus line that makes “you’re taking the bus” a bearable statement.

Fergus McCann started LimoLiners in 2003 with the goal of making travel not just comfortable, but productive. The 28-passenger bus was built to pamper with a variety of amenities rarely available on such short bus rides. With advanced seating selection, LimoLiners starts things off right by nixing waiting in lines and time-consuming check-ins.

From there, it only gets better. Forget “can you hear me now?” This bus has no dead spots and you will never experience dropped calls because of its clear and constant reception. If you have a laptop and choose to use it, it couldn’t be easier with the bus’ wireless Internet with a bandwidth of about 115 megabits per second and seatside outlets to plug in your computer or cell phone charger. Even better, you don’t have to worry about getting nasty looks from your neighbor when you decide to recline your chair.

With plenty of room in your spacious leather seat, you can kick back and stretch out. Every seat is either a window seat or an aisle, so say goodbye to cramped middle seats.

Complimentary snacks and light meals are served to you by LimoLiners’ onboard attendant, along with newspapers and magazines that you are free to keep once you leave the bus. If those aren’t enough, or you’d rather just sit back and relax than read, recently-released DVDs are shown on every trip, along with two channels of satellite TV and five soothing music stations to listen to. With these amenities, the trip will fly by.

Never even seen the restroom of your normal bus or train? You’re not alone. These bathrooms are so clean they even have fresh flowers in them.

LimoLiners leaves from Boston’s Back Bay Hilton Hotel to the Hilton in NYC and takes about four hours. Although a definite splurge at $79 each way, LimoLiners costs about the same as the train, and there is no doubt you will travel in luxury.

The next time you are forced to choose public transportation as a way of getting to the Big Apple, the options have gotten a little more promising. Now you might even request to take the bus home.

– Emily Unsworth can be reached at

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