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Author Topic: NYC via mass transit - 12/23/16 to 12/29/16  (Read 4399 times)

noelbotevera

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NYC via mass transit - 12/23/16 to 12/29/16
« on: December 07, 2016, 08:34:45 PM »

Ok, fine, this isn't a road trip, but I'm up to take the worst challenge of any roadgeek. Doing a probably 10 hour trip on mass transit (play dramatic music cues here). Be aware I'm starting from Chambersburg, so my closest option to head north is to get to Harrisburg. Also, I'm ready for the (could be literal) crap I'll see on Greyhound or whatever.


First and foremost, the easiest way to get to NYC is to drive up to Harrisburg (1 hour - should be easy). This gives us more freedom.

Here's some options:
Greyhound - $51 (1 adult and 1 child - I'm 12, my brother who will be coming with me is 17)
Amtrak - $66 (same as Greyhound)

I'll probably leave on the night of December 22nd. This trip is over 3 hours (there's not a required time, but I want to be early to beat the traffic at Penn Station and the subways), so I'd the latest to leave would be 11 PM (via Amtrak). Feel free to post suggestions.
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jeffandnicole

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Re: NYC via mass transit - 12/23/16 to 12/29/16
« Reply #1 on: December 07, 2016, 08:44:06 PM »

Where are you going to stay? A 17 year old is not an adult and will not be permitted to rent a hotel room.
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noelbotevera

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Re: NYC via mass transit - 12/23/16 to 12/29/16
« Reply #2 on: December 07, 2016, 09:04:18 PM »

Where are you going to stay? A 17 year old is not an adult and will not be permitted to rent a hotel room.
My brother is staying in his friend's apartment in Queens. We'll take the subway/LIRR from Penn Station/Port Authority Bus Terminal and then walk there.
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jeffandnicole

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Re: NYC via mass transit - 12/23/16 to 12/29/16
« Reply #3 on: December 08, 2016, 08:37:57 AM »

In that case, I wouldn't really worry about trying to avoid traffic at Penn Station...it's usually a madhouse no matter what.  And it's pretty well signed to get you where you need to catch the LIRR or Subway.  The problem with leaving at 11pm is you get to NYC in the overnight hours.  Better to leave during the day and get there during the day (or at least early evening).

If it was me, I would take Amtrak. 
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kalvado

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Re: NYC via mass transit - 12/23/16 to 12/29/16
« Reply #4 on: December 08, 2016, 10:53:19 AM »

In that case, I wouldn't really worry about trying to avoid traffic at Penn Station...it's usually a madhouse no matter what.  And it's pretty well signed to get you where you need to catch the LIRR or Subway.  The problem with leaving at 11pm is you get to NYC in the overnight hours.  Better to leave during the day and get there during the day (or at least early evening).

If it was me, I would take Amtrak.
I wouldn't call Penn anywhere close to well signed, until something really changed in past months...

Here's some options:
Greyhound - $51 (1 adult and 1 child - I'm 12, my brother who will be coming with me is 17)
Amtrak - $66 (same as Greyhound)

I tried both Greyhound and Amtrak a few months back. Amtrak was orders of magnitude better. Lavatory design and maintenance are a deal-breaker, even if everything else would be the same. 
Not that you can count on  either of those be on schedule, though.
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jeffandnicole

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Re: NYC via mass transit - 12/23/16 to 12/29/16
« Reply #5 on: December 08, 2016, 11:00:56 AM »

In that case, I wouldn't really worry about trying to avoid traffic at Penn Station...it's usually a madhouse no matter what.  And it's pretty well signed to get you where you need to catch the LIRR or Subway.  The problem with leaving at 11pm is you get to NYC in the overnight hours.  Better to leave during the day and get there during the day (or at least early evening).

If it was me, I would take Amtrak.
I wouldn't call Penn anywhere close to well signed, until something really changed in past months...

For the basics of looking for where LIRR and various subway lines are, they're easy to locate, with plenty of overhead signs.  If you think you're lost, just look up and around and almost guaranteed you'll see a sign somewhere pointing you in the direction you need to go!  It's a massive complex so it can take several minutes to get where you need to go.

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Re: NYC via mass transit - 12/23/16 to 12/29/16
« Reply #6 on: December 08, 2016, 11:46:08 AM »

In that case, I wouldn't really worry about trying to avoid traffic at Penn Station...it's usually a madhouse no matter what.  And it's pretty well signed to get you where you need to catch the LIRR or Subway.  The problem with leaving at 11pm is you get to NYC in the overnight hours.  Better to leave during the day and get there during the day (or at least early evening).

If it was me, I would take Amtrak.
I wouldn't call Penn anywhere close to well signed, until something really changed in past months...

For the basics of looking for where LIRR and various subway lines are, they're easy to locate, with plenty of overhead signs.  If you think you're lost, just look up and around and almost guaranteed you'll see a sign somewhere pointing you in the direction you need to go!  It's a massive complex so it can take several minutes to get where you need to go.

Depends on where you are. Amtrak area signage to subway is... so-so at best. Getting from subway to Amtrak, you will need a bit of luck to find your way.

Maybe things have changed since I was there about a year ago - but this 2010 article was still accurate back then:
http://www.slate.com/articles/life/signs/2010/03/lost_in_penn_station.html

Quote
Within each of the station's three concourses, the various wayfinding designers direct users primarily to the tracks and amenities of whomever they're working for. At this, they've done a reasonably good job. It's in directing travelers to other parts of the station that Penn's sign systems often fail.
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noelbotevera

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Re: NYC via mass transit - 12/23/16 to 12/29/16
« Reply #7 on: December 08, 2016, 12:30:00 PM »

In that case, I wouldn't really worry about trying to avoid traffic at Penn Station...it's usually a madhouse no matter what.  And it's pretty well signed to get you where you need to catch the LIRR or Subway.  The problem with leaving at 11pm is you get to NYC in the overnight hours.  Better to leave during the day and get there during the day (or at least early evening).

If it was me, I would take Amtrak.
What's wrong if I hit NYC at night? Typically there should be less traffic and cars on the road.

Speaking of cars, change of plans. My brother's friend will just pick us up wherever we are. We'll just take the Pennsylvanian Amtrak line from Harrisburg directly to Penn Station.
« Last Edit: December 08, 2016, 12:37:10 PM by noelbotevera »
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jeffandnicole

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Re: NYC via mass transit - 12/23/16 to 12/29/16
« Reply #8 on: December 08, 2016, 12:48:26 PM »

In that case, I wouldn't really worry about trying to avoid traffic at Penn Station...it's usually a madhouse no matter what.  And it's pretty well signed to get you where you need to catch the LIRR or Subway.  The problem with leaving at 11pm is you get to NYC in the overnight hours.  Better to leave during the day and get there during the day (or at least early evening).

If it was me, I would take Amtrak.
I wouldn't call Penn anywhere close to well signed, until something really changed in past months...

For the basics of looking for where LIRR and various subway lines are, they're easy to locate, with plenty of overhead signs.  If you think you're lost, just look up and around and almost guaranteed you'll see a sign somewhere pointing you in the direction you need to go!  It's a massive complex so it can take several minutes to get where you need to go.

Depends on where you are. Amtrak area signage to subway is... so-so at best. Getting from subway to Amtrak, you will need a bit of luck to find your way.

Maybe things have changed since I was there about a year ago - but this 2010 article was still accurate back then:
http://www.slate.com/articles/life/signs/2010/03/lost_in_penn_station.html

Quote
Within each of the station's three concourses, the various wayfinding designers direct users primarily to the tracks and amenities of whomever they're working for. At this, they've done a reasonably good job. It's in directing travelers to other parts of the station that Penn's sign systems often fail.

Let's say this is a highway.  You follow a pull-thru sign for New York City.  You get to the next interchange...and there's no pull-thru sign.  Do you rely on the previous sign?  Do you exit in hopes of finding another sign?  Or do you just pull over and start crying? 

That seems to be what this person is doing.  They're over-exaggerating the situation.  We're only looking at random pictures rather than seeing the full view.  Many stations have more than one exit.  If you pass the first one, you'll probably come up to a 2nd one.  If there's a stairway, there's almost guaranteed going to be some sort of sign.  So what if it wasn't smack-dab in front of you.  It's really not that hard to turn your head to see if there is a sign present.

There's also multiple ways around Penn Station.  Were both signs correct?  Probably.  But again, she starts taking pictures of every bit of signage she passes by.   If they walked down the corridor a hundred feet the wrong way, is it really going to wreck this person's life? 

I'm amazed this person can find her way around the city streets of New York to the small staircase with a single sign to get to her subway, but then acts as if finding the Amtrak area of the station is going to be a quest of a lifetime.  Penn Station is old, and like much of the Subway system has numerous twists and turns. But as the pictures point out, the signage is there...you just have to walk a few feet sometimes.



In that case, I wouldn't really worry about trying to avoid traffic at Penn Station...it's usually a madhouse no matter what.  And it's pretty well signed to get you where you need to catch the LIRR or Subway.  The problem with leaving at 11pm is you get to NYC in the overnight hours.  Better to leave during the day and get there during the day (or at least early evening).

If it was me, I would take Amtrak.
What's wrong if I hit NYC at night? Typically there should be less traffic and cars on the road.

Hah.  Also...later at night...more undesirables!
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Re: NYC via mass transit - 12/23/16 to 12/29/16
« Reply #9 on: December 08, 2016, 01:00:10 PM »


Depends on where you are. Amtrak area signage to subway is... so-so at best. Getting from subway to Amtrak, you will need a bit of luck to find your way.

Maybe things have changed since I was there about a year ago - but this 2010 article was still accurate back then:
http://www.slate.com/articles/life/signs/2010/03/lost_in_penn_station.html

Quote
Within each of the station's three concourses, the various wayfinding designers direct users primarily to the tracks and amenities of whomever they're working for. At this, they've done a reasonably good job. It's in directing travelers to other parts of the station that Penn's sign systems often fail.

Let's say this is a highway.  You follow a pull-thru sign for New York City.  You get to the next interchange...and there's no pull-thru sign.  Do you rely on the previous sign?  Do you exit in hopes of finding another sign?  Or do you just pull over and start crying? 

That seems to be what this person is doing.  They're over-exaggerating the situation.  We're only looking at random pictures rather than seeing the full view.  Many stations have more than one exit.  If you pass the first one, you'll probably come up to a 2nd one.  If there's a stairway, there's almost guaranteed going to be some sort of sign.  So what if it wasn't smack-dab in front of you.  It's really not that hard to turn your head to see if there is a sign present.

There's also multiple ways around Penn Station.  Were both signs correct?  Probably.  But again, she starts taking pictures of every bit of signage she passes by.   If they walked down the corridor a hundred feet the wrong way, is it really going to wreck this person's life? 

I'm amazed this person can find her way around the city streets of New York to the small staircase with a single sign to get to her subway, but then acts as if finding the Amtrak area of the station is going to be a quest of a lifetime.  Penn Station is old, and like much of the Subway system has numerous twists and turns. But as the pictures point out, the signage is there...you just have to walk a few feet sometimes.

Well, my personal experience:
Amtrak to subway: 15+ minutes, probably 1+ mile, ended up on a wrong line but chosen to exit the quest at that point - 2 connections instead of one was not too high of a price.
 Subway to Amtrak: had to download third party map to get my way after 15+ minutes of wondering around.

Feel free to insult if you will - but this is a first-hand experience. And I do have some experience of navigating big cities. Never had problems with navigating in hub airports as well (even disaster called IAD).
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noelbotevera

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Re: NYC via mass transit - 12/23/16 to 12/29/16
« Reply #10 on: December 08, 2016, 01:55:22 PM »

In that case, I wouldn't really worry about trying to avoid traffic at Penn Station...it's usually a madhouse no matter what.  And it's pretty well signed to get you where you need to catch the LIRR or Subway.  The problem with leaving at 11pm is you get to NYC in the overnight hours.  Better to leave during the day and get there during the day (or at least early evening).

If it was me, I would take Amtrak.
What's wrong if I hit NYC at night? Typically there should be less traffic and cars on the road.

Hah.  Also...later at night...more undesirables!
I forgot that NYC is literally the city that never sleeps. Thank god I live 4 hours from it, or else I'd never sleep here too.
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Re: NYC via mass transit - 12/23/16 to 12/29/16
« Reply #11 on: December 08, 2016, 08:47:50 PM »

What's wrong if I hit NYC at night?

Two minors with no adult accompanying them in a large city late at night is not a situation I would consider safe.

Penn Station's layout is, admittedly, unintuitive and potentially confusing if you don't know what's where. The key thing to remember is that it effectively contains three separate domains: Amtrak, NJ Transit, and LIRR.

Once you are in LIRR's domain, finding your train is relatively easy and well signed, the tricky part is getting to LIRR's domain from Amtrak's. There is a passageway from the Northwest corner of Amtrak's main concourse, to the left of a police booth and restrooms, with an Auntie Anne's along it. If you use it, go right at the bottom of the stairs to get to LIRR and left to get to the A/C/E (IND) 8th Ave Subway. There are other ways to get to the LIRR area but this is the easiest one to find.

Also bear in mind that track assignments at Penn Station are typically not announced until about 10 minutes before the train's scheduled departure time. If you are looking for a train that is further in the future than that, you will need to wait in the concourse area and watch the boards/listen for announcements.
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noelbotevera

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Re: NYC via mass transit - 12/23/16 to 12/29/16
« Reply #12 on: December 08, 2016, 09:35:23 PM »

What's wrong if I hit NYC at night?

Two minors with no adult accompanying them in a large city late at night is not a situation I would consider safe.

Penn Station's layout is, admittedly, unintuitive and potentially confusing if you don't know what's where. The key thing to remember is that it effectively contains three separate domains: Amtrak, NJ Transit, and LIRR.

Once you are in LIRR's domain, finding your train is relatively easy and well signed, the tricky part is getting to LIRR's domain from Amtrak's. There is a passageway from the Northwest corner of Amtrak's main concourse, to the left of a police booth and restrooms, with an Auntie Anne's along it. If you use it, go right at the bottom of the stairs to get to LIRR and left to get to the A/C/E (IND) 8th Ave Subway. There are other ways to get to the LIRR area but this is the easiest one to find.

Also bear in mind that track assignments at Penn Station are typically not announced until about 10 minutes before the train's scheduled departure time. If you are looking for a train that is further in the future than that, you will need to wait in the concourse area and watch the boards/listen for announcements.
True, we spoke about that. Problem is, we kinda have to wait. Two choices we have is to either take the subway (about 40 minutes) or have our friend pick us up while we wait inside (could be many hours at most). We've decided to come in on the afternoon of the 22nd, and by 1 PM we should be in Penn Station.

I'm not planning on using LIRR on this trip, but I will save it for future trips. I'm aware an LIRR stop exists in Jamaica (where our friend lives), which is actually pretty close to his house (It's on 88th Avenue east of Sutphin Boulevard).

We've planned that we can take the subway from 8th Avenue, go one stop north to 42nd Street - Port Auth., walk along 42nd to Bryant Park, then take the F train all the way to Sutphin Boulevard and walk there.

Another plan is that he picks us up from Penn Station. This is a little more tricky since we have to exit the station with our luggage (mostly our clothes, hygiene items, and I'm bringing a sleeping bag just in case, and some luxuries). My plan is to try and exit via Madison Square Garden or see if we can't find an exit in the Amtrak area. This map from 2014 shows some exits from the Amtrak area, but I'm not sure if any reconstruction changed these exits since then.
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Re: NYC via mass transit - 12/23/16 to 12/29/16
« Reply #13 on: December 09, 2016, 06:33:52 AM »

We've planned that we can take the subway from 8th Avenue, go one stop north to 42nd Street - Port Auth., walk along 42nd to Bryant Park, then take the F train all the way to Sutphin Boulevard and walk there.
You do realise that's two fares, right? Not to mention an over-complex way of doing it.

Take the E towards Queens from Penn Station and make your change to the F in Queens. Jackson Heights and Forest Hills would be same platform, Union Turnpike cross-platform (all very easy).
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Re: NYC via mass transit - 12/23/16 to 12/29/16
« Reply #14 on: December 09, 2016, 08:07:30 PM »

Based on how you've described the location it wouldn't be that difficult to stay on the E to Sutphin/Archer and walk from there, it's less than 1/4 mile extra compared to changing trains (depending on how much luggage you really have).

Or, if you want the F, just walk over to Herald Square from Penn (about the same amount of extra walking).

If you reason for going up to 42nd is that you want to walk through Times Square I will point out that the center of Times Square itself is actually at 45th St and if you simply walk down 42nd you will skirt around the edge of it. Yes, the subway station is named "Times Square - 42nd St" (since the station is centered around 42nd, not in the middle of Times Square itself). This has been known to mislead the uninformed.
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Re: NYC via mass transit - 12/23/16 to 12/29/16
« Reply #15 on: December 09, 2016, 08:37:06 PM »

If you want to go to Times Square from Penn Station, and you don't have much luggage, it's probably easier just to walk. Not really worth riding the subway one stop most of the time in Midtown.
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Re: NYC via mass transit - 12/23/16 to 12/29/16
« Reply #16 on: December 09, 2016, 08:44:08 PM »

In high school I went into the city unsupervised with parental blessing and no problem.  And that was in a *much* less clean and safe era of New York's history.  These days I'd call it reasonable seeing one of them is 17.

The signs in Penn Station are a solid step below what you'd expect in a typical airport, but this has as much to do with the sight lines and regular crush of travelers.  Signs or no, the place is a maze, and the ordeal of navigating it was a much bigger "screw you" to New Yorkers than any architectural loss from the old Penn Station.
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Re: NYC via mass transit - 12/23/16 to 12/29/16
« Reply #17 on: December 10, 2016, 12:42:02 AM »

 :banghead:

I feel dumb when I forgot that I could just walk to Herald Square. It's actually not too far (three blocks away). I am planning on seeing Times Square, but not on the date we leave because we're busy unpacking and setting up things (easier said than done - the apartment is about the size of my living room).

Well, it's around the closed section of Broadway is where you get into the meat of Times Square. Luckily the subway has exits to 43rd and 44th Streets, and to get to the center we just walk to 7th Avenue and Broadway.
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Re: NYC via mass transit - 12/23/16 to 12/29/16
« Reply #18 on: December 10, 2016, 10:05:16 AM »

Here's some options:
Greyhound - $51 (1 adult and 1 child - I'm 12, my brother who will be coming with me is 17)
Amtrak - $66 (same as Greyhound)

There's also Megabus.  I once took them to get between NYC and Philadelphia, and I was pleased with the experience.  They're generally less expensive.
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Re: NYC via mass transit - 12/23/16 to 12/29/16
« Reply #19 on: December 10, 2016, 01:39:10 PM »

Here's some options:
Greyhound - $51 (1 adult and 1 child - I'm 12, my brother who will be coming with me is 17)
Amtrak - $66 (same as Greyhound)

There's also Megabus.  I once took them to get between NYC and Philadelphia, and I was pleased with the experience.  They're generally less expensive.
Bit of an update on Amtrak. All the saver seats are gone, so the next step up costs $89. Ugh.
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Re: NYC via mass transit - 12/23/16 to 12/29/16
« Reply #20 on: December 10, 2016, 01:46:31 PM »

Here's some options:
Greyhound - $51 (1 adult and 1 child - I'm 12, my brother who will be coming with me is 17)
Amtrak - $66 (same as Greyhound)

There's also Megabus.  I once took them to get between NYC and Philadelphia, and I was pleased with the experience.  They're generally less expensive.
Bit of an update on Amtrak. All the saver seats are gone, so the next step up costs $89. Ugh.

Wait a few more days, and you're not going anywhere. Did you ever hear about Christmas?..
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noelbotevera

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Re: NYC via mass transit - 12/23/16 to 12/29/16
« Reply #21 on: December 10, 2016, 01:57:36 PM »

Here's some options:
Greyhound - $51 (1 adult and 1 child - I'm 12, my brother who will be coming with me is 17)
Amtrak - $66 (same as Greyhound)

There's also Megabus.  I once took them to get between NYC and Philadelphia, and I was pleased with the experience.  They're generally less expensive.
Bit of an update on Amtrak. All the saver seats are gone, so the next step up costs $89. Ugh.

Wait a few more days, and you're not going anywhere. Did you ever hear about Christmas?..
I'm leaving before Christmas. My trouble is the return trip, and the fact we don't have the money to buy in advance.
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Re: NYC via mass transit - 12/23/16 to 12/29/16
« Reply #22 on: December 10, 2016, 03:12:40 PM »

Here's some options:
Greyhound - $51 (1 adult and 1 child - I'm 12, my brother who will be coming with me is 17)
Amtrak - $66 (same as Greyhound)

There's also Megabus.  I once took them to get between NYC and Philadelphia, and I was pleased with the experience.  They're generally less expensive.
Bit of an update on Amtrak. All the saver seats are gone, so the next step up costs $89. Ugh.

Wait a few more days, and you're not going anywhere. Did you ever hear about Christmas?..
I'm leaving before Christmas. My trouble is the return trip, and the fact we don't have the money to buy in advance.

Oh no, Christmas is already in full swing here…today is the dreaded SantaCon and it's just a madhouse in Midtown. Next Saturday will be just as bad, and the actual weekend of Christmas will be well underway by the time you get here on the 22nd.


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noelbotevera

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Re: NYC via mass transit - 12/23/16 to 12/29/16
« Reply #23 on: December 10, 2016, 03:47:41 PM »

Yeah, I have to reserve quick. I'd say I'll try to catch the 1:05 Pennsylvanian (because it has a cafe car, and we're gonna get hungry while being on a train for 3 hours without breakfast). Hopefully I can get a coach class.
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Doing things that nobody wants to do since 2004.
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Re: NYC via mass transit - 12/23/16 to 12/29/16
« Reply #24 on: December 10, 2016, 10:30:07 PM »

Amtrak fares fluctuate quickly based on how tickets are selling. Couple of years ago I needed to take the Acela from New York home to DC on a Sunday, but I didn't know what my timing would be. If I'd bought the ticket on Saturday it would have been $100. I wound up paying $180 because I bought the ticket about 15 minutes before departure. Oh well. The longer-distance trains vary even more. I've seen sleeping-car fares on the Auto Train vary by over $400 for the same class of room depending on how close it is to departure time.
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