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You can’t judge a bus by its exterior. Though they share the same route (Washington to New York) and mode of transportation (motor coach), the bus companies are vastly different. We should know: We hopped 10 coaches from 10 different lines, noting such details as pickup and drop-off locations, amenities and prices. We then combined the data with our experiences to formulate a bottom line and a ranking from one bus (skip it) to four buses (tops).

Carrier
Stops in DC
Stops in NYC
Price
Booking Policies
Amenities
Bottom Line

Bolt Bus

877-265-8287
boltbus.com

$1-$25 (walk-up price) one way, plus 50-cent booking fee

Book online or by phone, or pay cash curbside. Guaranteed seat with a ticket. Rebook by phone up to 24 hours before departure; $3 fee, plus any fare differential. No refunds on cancellations.

Free WiFi, outlets and extra legroom. Some of the buses have leather seats and seat belts. With Bolt Rewards, receive a free one-way trip for every eight one-ways.

The Greyhound-owned line is a crowd favorite because of the amenities, guaranteed seating and easy boarding process. (You can flash a record of your reservation on your tech gadget, for example.) One downside: The buses are frequently sold out at the last minute and during popular times.

DC2NY

202-332-2691
dc2ny.com

$28 one way, $50 round trip; $30 walk-up fare

Reserve online or by phone; cash payments for walkup. Seat guaranteed with a reservation. Reschedule for free online 24 hours before departure. No refunds.

Free WiFi, outlets and bottled water; movies and scheduled rest stops added on the basis of passenger votes. Rewards program offers lower fares, a more generous rescheduling policy and a free trip after eight rides.

Staff is very affable and sensitive to passengers’ needs, such as voting for onboard entertainment. (My crew voted no for “The Office,” “The Interpreter” or “Get Smart.”) Very clean buses, and we drank up that free water. Our only wish is for later departure times: On many days, the last bus leaves the District at 5:30 p.m.

Greyhound

800-231-2222
greyhound.com

From $20 one way

Book by phone, online or in the terminal. First come, first served. For a guaranteed seat and to pre-board, purchase a $5 priority seating ticket. Nonrefundable-ticket holders pay $15 to reschedule. No refunds

New buses have free WiFi, outlets, extra legroom, seat belts and cup holders. Road Rewards program offers such perks as one free companion pass with a paid full-fare ticket after you purchase six oneway trips.

We relished the new buses, which reminded us of a swank VIP lounge, but disliked having to be at the terminal an hour in advance to grab a seat. (When we flouted the rule by a half-hour, we were too late to get a seat and ended up on a dirty Peter Pan bus.) We also cringed at the craziness of the terminal and at being wanded at the Port Authority.

Hola

202-509-9600
holabus.com

$20 one way, $35 round trip; $25 one way, $45 round trip for Rockville (includes D.C.)

Book online or pay cash on the bus. Call 24 hours before departure to reschedule for free. No refunds.

Free WiFi and satellite TV allegedly.

We were smitten with the logo (a grinning pandalike bear with a halo) but lukewarm about the actual bus. The driver did not know how to operate the WiFi, the trash bags needed to be emptied and an image on the TV just flickered. At least the vehicle had a new-bus smell

MegaBus

877-462-6342
megabus.com/us

$1, $3, $8, $10, $15, $19 or $23 one way.

Book online or by phone; walk-up purchases by cash and credit also available. Must reschedule more than 24 hours before your original departure; charge is $1 plus price differential. No refunds.

Free WiFi, double-decker fleet; power outlets being added. Promotions offered to Facebook friends and Twitter followers.

Megabus, a subsidiary of Coach USA, is a mega workhorse, offering more than 20 round trips a day. When Bolt is booked up, many people default to Megabus. The ride is consistently smooth, but the boarding process in New York is hellish, with higgledy-piggledy lines, hordes of confused riders and too few employees on hand. A little signage could go a long way.

MVP

888-687-2871
mvpbus.com

$20 one way, $35 round trip

Book online or buy at the bus stop (cash only). Seats guaranteed with online purchase. Pay $5 to reschedule; for Washington, call 202-408-1128, and for New York, visit the office across the street from the pickup spot. No refunds.

Movies and free WiFi, with a caveat.

Our high hopes for MVP crashed when we were put on a chartered bus instead of the company’s own. (Hindsight lesson: MVP runs its own vehicles Monday-Thursday but uses others on weekends.) Our non-MVP bus was pretty dismal: No WiFi, broken reading lights and the restroom was like an indoor outhouse, unclean and lacking toilet paper and hand sanitizer. Now we know.

New Century Travel

202-789-8222
2000coach.com

$20 one way, $35 round trip

Book online or purchase tickets in cash at the H Street office. No rescheduling or refunds.

Some buses may play movies.

You could promise us the entire film oeuvre of Jackie Chan and we still wouldn’t get on the bus. The boarding was unclear — we were instructed to board the Philly-bound bus, but then what? — and the ride was harrowing from start to finish. We want our 20 bucks back!

Tripper Bus

877-826-3874
tripperbus.com

$1, $5, $10 or $25 one way

Book online or by phone; walk-ups pay cash. Guaranteed seat with a reservation. No charge to reschedule. Must cancel at least 12 hours before departure time; tickets nonrefundable, but credit will be held for future use.

Free WiFi and bottled water; outlets. With the frequentrider program, travel four times and get one trip free.

Suckers for free cold water on a hot day and topnotch customer service, we easily fell for Tripper. Before leaving New York, owner Betty Unger boarded the bus to make sure we were all happy and hydrated. Halfway through the trip, we e-mailed HQ to alert them to the toilet paper situation (none). The company messaged back an answer, and the bus driver later showed us the TP stash. Our only wish is for more frequent service.

Vamoose

877-393-2828
vamoosebus.com

$30 one way

Book online or by phone, credit cards only. Call to reschedule for no charge. No refunds on cancellations, but ticket will remain on hold and applied to future travel.

With frequent-rider program, travel four times and receive a free trip. Company is also launching Vamoose Gold, a more luxe service for about $50 one way.

The company wins points for personable customer service and clean vehicles, but its buses aren’t very 21st century. The fare is also the highest of the lot.

Washington Deluxe

866-287-6932
washny.com

$21 one way, $40 round trip, based on Sunday-Friday travel; $25 each way on Saturday

Reserve online (no payment necessary until you board the bus), or pay by credit card by phone. Walk-ups accepted. Seating guaranteed with a reservation. To reschedule, go online 24 hours before travel or call for assistance. No charge. No refund but can apply unused ticket for future travel.

Free WiFi; outlets on select vehicles. Collect four roundtrip coupons and receive a fifth one-way ride for free, or collect eight one-way tickets for a free ninth.

Convenient pickups in Washington and helpful customer service. The buses don’t depart as late as some of the other companies (last one is 7:30 p.m.), but we’d happily get on the road earlier for this ride.

Buses come with air conditioning and restrooms, but sometimes the companies charter vehicles, so you might not get all the other promised fixings. No trip is ever the same, due to the quixotic nature of traffic and passengers.
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