As I ride from NYC to Providence on the 4:30 PM *scheduled* bus that finally departed Port Authority at 5:20 PM, I am once again reminded that, while it is possible to travel from one city to the other, it is most often impossibly difficult.
I don’t have a car in the city, so these are my options for traveling back and forth: 1) Amtrak from Penn Station to Providence 2) Peter Pan Bus from Port Authority to Kennedy Plaza in Providence 3) Metro North from Grand Central to New Haven, then getting a ride from New Haven to Providence 4) By foot (an option I have not explored, but have, in frustration, entertained)
Each option has its pros and cons, of course. The pros are fewer and farther in between, but the biggest pro of all – the fact that I eventually end up at my destination – far outweighs any con. That is not to say the cons are not plentiful. Let’s analyze.
A selection of the CONS of Amtrak:
1) Cost. Usually I am traveling at peak hours, which happens when you have a 9-5 job… work kind of gets in the way of travel. And peak hours = high cost. High as in $92 for the Northeast Regional (meaning it stops approximately every 5 (slight exaggeration) minutes and $118 for the Acela (just two stops before Providence). Oh, and that is the cost for ONE WAY.
2) Crowds. The trains are always packed. I can’t remember the last time I traveled on Amtrak without a seatmate. Once I had three – a man and his two rambunctious young boys sitting on his lap. He had a Southern accent and kept pointing out the “Interstate” like it was actually something interesting. GOOD TIMES.
3) Tardiness. It is ALWAYS, WITHOUT FAIL, INEVITABLY, NEVER NOT late. Once by an hour and a half. Inexcusable.
4) No WiFi. Seriously? If I’m going to shell out that kind of cash, be late AND put up with listening to a guy salivate over Route 95, I best be able to do it while updating my Facebook status with something like, “Dude, it’s a HIGHWAY.”
A selection of the CONS of Peter Pan Bus:
1) No electrical outlets. The free WiFi they offer rocks, but if you run out of power on your laptop, the perk is kind of moot.
2) Traffic. So much traffic. Again, that traveling-at-peak-hours thing kind of gets in the way. And it makes estimating your time of arrival for your pick-up person kind of difficult. Ugh, traffic.
3) Customer Service. Just trust me on this one. There’s definite room for improvement, and that’s putting it nicely.
4) It leaves out of Port Authority. It’s dirty, it’s a hub for the homeless, sometimes a pigeon or two flies overhead while you’re waiting in line for the bus, and unless you exit onto 8th Avenue, you’re going to end up in a neighborhood you just don’t want to be in.
A selection of the CONS of Metro North:
1) The trains are older and less comfortable then Amtrak trains. And there are three seats to a row, so you may find yourself wedged between two strangers.
2) The farthest it goes is New Haven, so for my purposes, I have to find someone willing to drive and hour and a half from Providence to pick me up there… and then drive and hour and a half back with me. The logistics of this may be why I have only used this mode of transportation once.
3) I’m sure New Haven is a lovely little city (?)… but its train station isn’t exactly a place where I’d elect to spend a lot of time.
A selection of the CONS of by foot:
1) Again, I have not yet used this mode of transportation, but my iPhone GPS estimates that it would take me approximately 2 days and 5 hours. And that’s just too long to go without a shower.
Yes, I could opt to just stay in the city more often so I don’t have to travel back and forth so much, but I have some interests in Rhode Island that make the frustation of trains or buses worth it.
And so, I continue to travel…
*Updated to add: It is 8:00 PM and I am still on the 4:30 PM (ha!) bus to Providence as I type. In this time, 3 new things have come to light:
1) I forgot to add this CON about Peter Pan: the bathroom situation. Cramped, shakey and sink-less is no way to go. I’m not asking for an enjoyable experience in the bathroom, just a somewhat pleasant one. And a workable light would be nice. Just sayin’.
2) AS IF we weren’t already running 50 minutes late, the bus driver apparently thought that taking a random 10-15 minute break at a rest stop would be a good idea. At this rate, the 6 PM bus is totally getting there before us.
3) Brian has a bone to pick with the label “some interests” in the second to last sentence. I guess my previous post didn’t spell out how I really feel, huh? 😉