What's the best, fastest, and cheapest way to travel between Boston and New York?
You have a lot of choices: Bus service from Go Buses, Megabus, Bolt Bus, Grayhound, "Chinatown" buses. Amtrak's express Acela and only slightly slower Northeast Regional trains. The Delta shuttle and similar cheap flights from other airlines.
But here's the spoiler: door-to-door, you may not find a huge difference in total travel time, depending on your particular situation.
However, you may (or may not) find significant differences in cost, as well as convenience and comfort.
So which is best? Here's our round up of all the different options in the highly competitive Boston - NYC transportation corridor: a variety of buses, Amtrak's Northeast Regional trains, Acela, the cheap shuttle flights, and more. We point out pros and cons for each to help you weigh which one works best for you.
Top photo: The late and much-mourned LimoLiner getting ready to depart from Boston's Back Bay Hilton
Boston to New York Bus Options & Comparisons
Red-hot competition among Boston - New York bus companies means you'll find a lot of bargains . . . and Go Buses' service from Cambridge and Newton gives you even more choices.
For NYC to Boston travel, bus fares with free WiFi and luxury extras almost always cost less - sometimes MUCH LESS - than you'd pay for Amtrak Acela train tickets or the even cheapest flight to New York.
Which Boston - New York bus service is best?
Although all 5 choices reviewed on this page get you back and forth between Boston and New York, amenities range from comfortable to no-frills. Sadly, Boston's luxury bus to New York is no longer in business - but it was also the most expensive, so you'll still find plenty of choices with cheap-to-affordable tickets.
Most of the buses have on-board restrooms. Travel time listed on this page is based on what the bus companies state. In reality, traffic may add another 1 to 1.5 hours each way.
You typically need to be at your bus departure point about 30 minutes before boarding.
Fares are for 1-way only. In some cases, round trip tickets may cost less.
Go Buses - Cambridge and Newton to NYC near Penn Station
- Amenities: Go Buses (owned by Academy Bus) provide free WiFi, power outlets, free bottled water, and high-back seats on its 55-passenger coaches - and the only bus service between Cambridge, MA - New York City and Newton, MA - NYC - a huge bonus to students from Harvard, MIT, Boston College, and all the other colleges and universities in Cambridge and Newton. 50 pound baggage allowance.
- Arrival/Departure: Cambridge - Alewife MBTA station (end point for the T's Red Line); Newton - Riverside MBTA station at 335 Grove Street(end point for the subway's Green Line D branch); New York - 9th Avenue and 30th Street, near Penn Station. Typically 4 daily departures in each direction.
- Parking at Boston T Stations: You can park for up to 7 nights at both Alewife and Riverside MBTA stations
- Bicycles & Instruments on Board: Yes, you can bring your bicycle and your musical instrument
- Travel time to NYC from Cambridge: 4 hours and 40 minutes
- Typical 1-way fare: $24-$33, but occasionally as low as $5
- Other cities served from New York: Providence, Hartford, New Haven, Providence, Washington DC, and Northern Virginia
- Book tickets: www.gobuses.com
Greyhound Express - Boston's South Station to New York's Port Authority
- Amenities: Greyhound provides free WiFi, power outlets, leather seats on some buses. All seats are window or aisle (no middle seats). Overhead luggage storage.
- Arrival/Departure: Boston's South Station (700 Atlantic Ave; 1-800-231-2222); New York Port Authority (625 8th Ave; 1-800-231-2222)
- Travel time to NYC: 4.5 - 6+ hours
- Typical 1-way fare booked online: $12-$38
- Book tickets: www.greyhound.com
- Other cities served by Grayhound: 2,400 destinations across the US, Mexico, and Canada
Bolt Bus - Boston's South Station to NYC's Penn Station
- Amenities: Bolt bus offers free WiFi, power outlets on some buses, reserved seats, and occasional $1 fares.
- Stations: Boston - South Station; NYC - Penn Station vicinity (check website for exact details), and curbside stop on 1st Avenue between E. 38th and E. 39th near the UN
- Travel time to NYC: 4 hours, 15 minutes
- Typical 1-way fare: About $13 - $36; ticket cost is higher closer to departure date
- Guaranteed seat? Yes, if you book online and arrive at the boarding point at least 15 minutes before departure time.
- Other cities in the Boston - Washington DC corridor: Philadelphia, Newark, Baltimore, Cherry Hill, New Haven, Wilmington, Washington DC
- Book tickets: Online up to 2 hours before departure
- Loyalty program: Free 1-way fare trip after 8 full-fare trips (greater than $1)
Megabus Service from Boston's South Station to New York
- Amenities: Free WiFi, individual power outlets on some buses, reclining seats, reserved seating, onboard restrooms. Low cost.
- Stations: Boston - South Station; NYC - departures about 3 blocks from Penn Station and arrivals at 7th Avenue and 27th Street intersection (check website for exact location)
- Travel time to NYC: 4 hours, 15 minutes
- Typical 1-way fare: About $10 - $39; ticket cost is higher closer to departure date, so you'll save by making your reservations as early as possible; $1 tickets occasionally available
- Other service areas from Boston: Burlington, Vermont and Portland, Maine (via Concord Coach Lines)
Lucky Star Bus - Boston's South Station to NYC Chinatown
- Amenities: Free WiFi on some buses; no restrooms on board the bus
- Arrival/Departure: Boston - South Station (near Chinatown); New York Chinatown - 145 Canal Street
- Check-in: If you have an e-ticket, you need to check in at the ticket counter 30 minutes prior to departure. In Boston, the ticket counter is next to the newsstand on the 3rd floor of South Station; in NY, the ticket counter is at 145 Canal Street)
- Travel time to NYC: 4 1/2 hours to 5 hours (may include 15 minute fast food/restroom stop)
- Typical 1-way fare: $5 - $20 for non-refundable non-changeable discount tickets; full fare tickets cost more and are also non-refundable but can be changed - see website for details
- Other cities from Boston: None
- Book tickets: www.luckstarbus.com
LimoLiner from Boston to New York - CLOSED
Update: LimoLiner has ceased operations due to financial difficulties. The loss of its huge leather seats will be mourned by Boston - NYC commuters.
Boston Insider Tip: Reserve Your Bus Seat in Advance!
Boston's huge student population competes with business and leisure travelers for seats on the buses between Boston and New York. It's not unusual for ALL buses to completely sell out around weekends, and getting reservations for certain holidays such as Thanksgiving can be notoriously difficult.
Best tip: Book early, and make sure your seat is confirmed!
Boston - New York by Bus: Pros & Cons
Pros - Why to take the bus
- Cost: Cheapest option. If you book far enough ahead, a bus trip between Boston and New York can be as cheap as $5 (or $1, but those fares are hard to snag).
- Convenience: With 5 bus lines offering service to a variety of locations, you can choose what works best for you. Go Buses, with service from Newton and Cambridge, is a favorite with students at Boston College, Harvard, MIT, Tufts, Wellesley, Brandeis, and other universities to the west of Boston. In NYC, buses arrive and depart at a range of locations.
Cons - Why NOT to take the bus
- Speed: On paper, transit time between the two cities is only slightly longer than making the trip by Amtrak's Northeast Regional train. But here's the catch: traffic. If you get stuck in a big backup, you'll wish you were on Amtrak gliding along the rails. Does getting the lowest possible fare but possibly spending 5-6 hours or more in route because of the traffic worth the savings? That's what you'll need to decide.
Boston - New York City on Amtrak - Acela & Northeast Regional
Amtrak operates numerous daily trains between Boston's South Station and New York's Penn Station. Both stations are in central city locations, with subway and train connections to other parts of each city. You can also board Amtrak's Acela Express and Northeast Regional trains at Back Bay Station as well as the I-95/Westwood station outside of Boston.
With Amtrak, you can choose from 3 types of service:
- Acela Nonstop - Fastest train service between Boston and NYC at 2 hours, 35 minutes. Lowest 21-day advance booking runs about $130 one way
- Acela Express - 2 hours, 55 minutes. Lowest 21-day advance booking is about $130 one way
- Northeast Regional - 3 hours, 30 minutes. Lowest 21-day advance booking costs about $53 one way
Seats are spacious and comfortable, your foldout workspace accommodates a laptop, and food and beverages are available to buy - although both Penn Station and South Station offer much better food choices than you'll find on board, so arrive a few minutes early and grab something before you depart.
Unlike the Boston - New York bus services, Amtrak does not get impacted by heavy traffic on the highway. The train is also less likely to be impacted by winter weather - a consideration in New England - than flights or bus transportation. For convenience, comfort, and general reliability as well as a pleasant ride through the New England countryside, Amtrak is hard to beat.
At some times of the day, there is little difference in travel time between regular service and the Acela. Seating on the Acela is somewhat more spacious, especially in first class, where meals are complimentary and served at your seat - but again, there is not a big difference compared with seating in the regular service trains. All Acela seats are either Business Class or First Class.
Amtrak departs/arrives from South Station and Back Bay Station in Boston; there is also a stop on Route 128 at Westwood. The train arrives/departs from Penn Station in New York.
Boston - New York by Train: Pros & Cons
Pros - Why to take the train
- Cost: The Regional Express (comparable to Economy seats on flights) is somewhat cheaper than flying, and if you book 21+ days in advance, not much more expensive than the bus (unless you score one of the super-cheap bus fares).
- Speed: Faster than the bus. On the Northeast Regional, comparable to flying; on the Acela, somewhat faster than flying (taking into account security, time spent on the runway, etc.)
- Convenience: Boston and New York stations are centrally located, vs NYC airports which are all outside of Manhattan. If your departure/arrival end points are in central locations, the train will be much more convenient.
- Comfort: Even standard seats on the Northeast Regional are significantly more comfortable and spacious compared with traveling by bus or plane. If you need to pull out your laptop and work during your trip, you'll have plenty of room, as well as power outlets and wifi connectivity (although for wifi, you're better off using your own roaming service if you need speed or security). Comfort is even greater on Acela (baseline seats are Business class), if you don't mind the extra expense. Book a first class Acela seat if you need greater privacy.
Cons - Why NOT to take the train
- Cost: If you're looking for the cheapest transportation between Boston and New York, you can usually save a few dollars by taking the bus, especially if you get your tickets more than 3 weeks in advance of your trip.
Boston - NYC on the Delta Shuttle & Other Cheap Flights
Cheap non-stop flights from between Boston and New York usually cost around $60-$100+ for one way, assuming you book at least three weeks in advance.
Although the Delta Shuttle used to provide the most frequent and fastest air transportation between the two cities, JetBlue and United now also provide frequent non-stop service with multiple flights each day. Other airlines such as Spirit, American, and other carriers also service this route, although with far fewer flights.
Here are the New York area airports used by the airlines offering the most flights to/from Boston:
- Delta - JFK, LaGuardia
- JetBlue - JFK
- United - LaGuardia, Newark
Actual flight time runs about 35-45 minutes in the air, plus time spent on the runway for takeoff and landing, and of course, check-in and security. As a result, total time between arriving at the airport and departing for your destination averages around 3 - 3.5 hours.
Here's the catch: While flying may be take about the same time or be even slightly faster than the Acela based on when you arrive at the airport or station and when you leave, any time savings may be eaten up by ground transportation time and expenses if you're heading into most areas of Manhattan.
A fixed-rate shared airport shuttle into Manhattan will usually be the cheapest option, especially for only one traveler, but may take the longest, especially if you hit rush hour. And remember, shuttle prices are per person.
A taxi or town car service will usually be faster and could cost less per person if you're traveling with one or more people. Taxis will typically be cheaper than town cars - IF you don't hit rush hour. Ride share services such as Uber and Lyft typically cost a little less than a taxi but are subject to surge prices if you get stuck in traffic.
If you're traveling at rush hour, reserve a fixed price town car if you want to avoid possibly-soaring taxi/Uber/Lyft fares - or consider the fixed-rate shuttle.
Here are estimates of distance, travel time, and costs (shuttle estimates are for round trip tickets, and taxi and town car estimates are 1-way only) from each NYC airport to Manhattan:
- LaGuardia Airport LGA (Queens) - 8 miles (13km), 20-35 minutes; airport shuttle $28; taxi (including tolls and tip) $60-$130; town car $88-$122
- John F. Kennedy International Airport JFK (also Queens - but much farther from Manhattan than LaGuardia) - 15 miles (25km), 45-60 minutes; airport shuttle $34; taxi (including tolls and tip) $130-$138; town car $116-$132
- Newark Airport EWR (Newark, New Jersey) - 14 miles (20km), 35-50 minutes airport shuttle $36; taxi (including tolls and tip) $172-$238; town car $132-$180
Please note: These costs are approximate and are meant for comparisons only; they can change at any time. Check NYC Insider Guide for details and updates.
Getting to and from Boston Logan International Airport and the downtown business district is relatively cheap.
The fastest way (less than 10 minutes) to travel between the airport and downtown if you can handle your luggage without assistance is to take a water taxi to Long Wharf, about 3-5 minutes on foot to the downtown business district, or take the subway (Blue Line) from Logan to State or another downtown station.
If you have more luggage than you can handle on your own, you'll need to take a taxi, ride share service such as Uber or Lyft, or a private car service. These options will almost always take longer (traffic!) and cost more than the water taxi or subway but will still be cheaper than their counterparts in NY.
Boston - New York by Plane: Pros & Cons
Pros - Why to fly between Boston & NYC
- Location: If NYC's airport locations (Queens for LaGuardia, Long Island for JFK, New Jersey for Newark) are closer to your final destination/departure end point than Manhattan, flying may save you local transit time and costs.
- Speed: Faster than the bus
Cons - Why NOT to fly
- Cost: Airfare will usually cost more than bus tickets or Northeast Regional service on Amtrak, and local transit costs may be much higher if your departure or arrival point is in Manhattan; in Boston, South Station (train and most buses) is more convenient and usually somewhat cheaper to reach than Logan Airport
- Location: If NYC's airport locations (Queens for LaGuardia, Long Island for JFK, New Jersey for Newark) are NOT closer to your final destination/departure end point than Manhattan, flying will be less convenient.
- Convenience & Productivity: Getting to/from the airport in New York can be a hassle if your departure/destination point is not nearby; getting through airport security can also be a hassle, even with TSA PreCheck, Global Entry, or another expedited means of passing through it more quickly; seating can be too cramped to work on a laptop, and there's not much time anyway since your tray can't be in use for takeoff and landing.
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