Get to New York City Cheap with the China Town Bus

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May 13th 2013
Published: May 13th 2013
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The Big Apple from 5thavenue to Ellis Island. This place instills a lot of things in the mind. New York is a great place to visit. It’s a better place to move to if you’re trying to make it or bust should the fates be unkind. It is also (arguably) one of the most expensive cities in the World, so traveling for as cheap as possible can make the trip even more enjoyable. Flying is without doubt the fastest way to get there, the train sometimes can be cheaper; the Greyhound Bus takes much longer but is in fact the cheapest of the options. There is however another alternative to those: the infamous (and lesser known) China Town Bus.

The China Town Bus is actually an extension of GoToBus ( Skyhorse Bus, NYTiger Bus, Mingan Bus are a few of the lines that fall under the China Town Bus infamy. The China Town Bus system has gained a rather mixed reputation. The GoToBus line travels to what seems like a random assortment of destinations, so it can be tricky to plan a massive around the country trip, but is worth checking into for a weekend excursion or for a unique cheap way to see the East Coast of the United States.

The Department of Transportation shut down the Fung Wah and Ming An lines incorporated inside the Goto Bus umbrella. This happened after it was found they had been employing unsafe drivers. The DOT investigation found drivers that were being held to federal drug and alcohol testing as well as not being licensed to drive the buses. The shutdowns Spurred overhauls to the whole system. Over bookings and bad service are still rumored to happen however, are less common. Nevertheless expect an interesting start and ending to your trip.

What seems to be an empty store front filled with random junk when you enter is actually the bus terminal. In Columbus there is only one man at a fold out table and a stack of tickets. I handed him the print out they had emailed me then he proceeded to fill out a ticket and pointed at the door saying “give to bus.” All in all, the bus was a pretty standard charter bus and was faster and more direct than the greyhound (as well as cheaper). With no delays, we were off to New York City, and for the price of a fifty dollar ticket. I mean, do you really need that first class ticket price for a two hour flight?

The China Town Bus drops off all passengers on Canal St. in the heart of Manhattan, so getting to where you need to be isn’t a challenge. In Ney York City You’re always near plenty of delicious food, and all the knick knacks the heart desires. A smooth ride with no hiccups hardly seemed worthy of the infamy the China Town Busses had acquired; at least until the return trip.

The New York terminal for the dreaded China Town Bus looks much more professional, complete with an arrival and departure board made of paper. Same as before, you give them the print out, they fill out your ticket and say “give to bus.” This time, however, they had overbooked the bus by about twenty or so people. There was also a man who had lied about how many children were with him, and since everyone no matter their age, requires a ticket, he needed to buy another. He promptly put up a fight and before we knew it the police were there escorting the man and his children off of the bus. After the arguments and the tense atmosphere subsided, we were once again on our way.

Overall, the China Town Bus totaling one hundred dollars roundtrip, and being the fastest second to a flight is very much worth the risk. It’s the most direct and cheap way to see New York City with a unique experience. The phrase “You get what you pay for” comes to mind when I think of the China Town Bus. If you really can’t live without that first class ticket and complementary bag of peanuts then the GoToBus system probably isn’t for you. On the other hand, the money you save in travel costs can be used for a more exciting night out, or a better hotel room. After all, what’s life with no adventure or excitement? Not much of one at all, I think.


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