I'll be honest -- you'd have to pay me to take one of those buses. You never know who you'll end up by -- yakkers on cell phones, infants crying, some kid kicking the back of your seat. At least on a train you can get up and move.
And traffic is another important consideration. All it takes is rain, an accident, or a bus driver arriving late from another run and you're in for a long haul.
I would eat the extra $ for the train and R E L A X.
My family's favorite is Vamoose; I also like Megabus and Boltbus. And we have also had good service with Peter Pan. There is hardly any difference among these four "best" (to our family).
Megabus and Boltbus leave from outside Hudson Yards-34th St subway station.of the #7 train.
Vamoose leaves from W. 30th St and 7th Avenue
Peter Pan leaves from the Port Authority Bus Terminal on 41nd and 8th.
All except Vamoos go to Union Station (the railroad station) in Washington.
Vamoose goes to downtown Bethesda's Metro station and also Rosslyn Virginia's Metro station. Neither is far from the White House, for example.
Go by price. They are all good, as far as I'm concerned.Edited: 21 August 2018, 05:29
I take the various buses to and from Boston, same companies. Really, you can have a nightmare experience on any of them because of traffic which is out of their control.
I do agree that Megabus is good but my one issue with them is the outdoor pickup location. If it’s nice out, no issues, but if it’s rainy or cold, it’s awful. You want to show up early for your bus, at least a half hour early. Why? You want your choice of seats. Latecomers end up next to the stinky bathroom or not getting seats together or whatever.Edited: 21 August 2018, 07:09
DC rush hour starts to build around 2pm on Fridays and gets really bad by 3pm. And DC has one of the worst rush hours in the country, much worse than NYC.* So if you really do want to leave NYC in the morning on a Friday, consider taking whichever bus line gets you into DC as close to 2 as possible.
*Because most people in NYC take mass transitEdited: 21 August 2018, 07:42
My recommendation would be to forego the bus and endless hours on a stuffy bus and take the train from Penn Station to DCs Union Station. It’s faster and the ride would be a lot more relaxing.
IMHOAmtrak is much better than any of the buses. It is an hour faster than their best time and the buses are often stuck in traffic, bad weather, delayed due to accidents, etc. And as noted, on the train you can always change seats if there is a problem near yours. the key is buying the tickets far enough in advance to get the lowest discount fares.
“DC rush hour starts to build around 2pm on Fridays and gets really bad by 3pm.”
But like most cities, the majority of commuters are headed out of the city. The OP will be headed against the flow.
There are some suburban choke points the OP might encounter on a bus trip. But it wouldn’t be normal to encounter them at 2:00 or 3:00 p.m.
Friday is a tough day to travel. i usually leave very early in the morning or late at night to avoid traffic in both DC and NYC. Pay the extra money for Amtrak, it is worth it.
I end up taking either Megabus or Boltbus but expect a travel time of around 5 hours in mid morning on the bus.
You're right that they would be travelling the opposite direction of the suburban choke points leading into and out of DC. But there is still a fair amount of city driving within the city itself to get to Union Station (as opposed to Port Authority in NYC, which is very close to the Lincoln Tunnel), so I really think that all things being equal, they should get a bus that gets to DC before 3.
(That is if they take the bus)Edited: 21 August 2018, 14:06