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Slightly embarrassed (and still completely nonfunctionally out of it, thanks in small part to a show at the Roseland ballroom last night and in vast quantities to the insanity that was the diverted Q train to Brooklyn last night, I’m barely sitting upright and I think Michael and I yelled at each other this morning but I honestly don’t even remember, I was so out of it) to learn that Bolt is actually a subsidiary of Greyhound, founded this spring to compete directly with the Chinatown buses. Early reports list the service as NY-DC only, although now the company has a Boston run too.

The question is – isn’t Bolt now competing with itself, ie Greyhound? Why couldn’t they just cut costs on the regular Greyhound line? Will this force the Chinese buses to get more organized and clean?

This also begs my two personal bus pet peeves – why can’t American buses install those amazing double-wide faux-leather Lazy-Boy-recliner seats with the radios in the arm rest like the awesome Spanish buses? And why can’t there be an attendant who brings around tea or coffee, hot towels and blankets to tuck you in at night, like the South American buses? (They do this in Turkey too, but the gentleman on that bus took a creepy interest in a friend of mine and she woke up with him beside her staring and I think almost touching, if not outright, so I’ll leave that off the list).

The list of East Coast bus services is getting long, so I’ll leave with one last question – what’s the best?

I ask not just for me, but for also for Mom, who has been pondering ways to take a weekend trip or two solo once we have our new place in Park Slope, and I think there’s some buses that will pick her up in Salisbury on the Norfolk-NY run, but I’m not sure nor do I know how nice they are.

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Blogging from the bus isn’t just for political wonkheads anymore. Not if I’m doing it too – as we speak! (Or as I write, and you read, but you get the point).

Chinatown buses have plied the NY-DC corridor for years now, but a couple of non-Chinatown companies have started cashing in too – and for the same price, about $20 one way. That’s compared to $72-$170+ for Amtrak, $45 for Greyhound, and who knows how much for driving. I checked out megabus.com (see: previous post) and saw they picked up right outside of Metro Center at the corner of G and 11th streets, NW. I wanted to use cash, so I figured I’d take my chances and try to pay on the bus instead of getting my ticket in advance.

Outside the Metro stop, I asked one of the nice gentlemen the city pays to answer all a tourist’s questions (and others, since I don’t consider myself a tourist in DC). There’s no office but the buses come right here, he said, pointing at the curb two feet away.

Turns out at least two bus services stop there – Megabus.com, and Boltbus.com, with almost identical pricing. The latter came first, at 11:30am about 45 minutes before the former, so I decided to give it a go.

The flaming orange Bolt bus is a relatively new luxury coach, with a bathroom but without that Greyhound smell (you know what I mean). The bus driver efficiently directed everyone on board with a smile (a smile! From an inter-state bus driver!), answered questions, and had us all ready to go within 10 minutes. I paid $25 as a walk-up.

Once aboard she introduced herself as Carolyn and reminded everyone not to smoke, to turn their cell phones down and to otherwise be polite to the neighbors.

The bus stops at 33rd and 7th in Manhattan, apparently by S’barros, which is close enough to Penn Station for me.

Travelzoo has a great deal on a new inter-city bus company, Megabus – so good the company’s site has crashed. Free seats. Or come June, $1 seats. I can’t get to the site, and I’m not surprised. From the brief Travelzoo mention, apparently this is a  Scottish discount bus company making a go of the U.S. and Canadian markets. From the picture, the bus looks like a nice charter, and Travelzoo said they hope to put WiFi on the buses soon.

UK opinion on the service is pretty mixed. The biggest complaint seems to be a lack of customer service, long waits, and penny pinching – but the buses aren’t bad and the service is cheap. A typical overview.

In other news, the Atlantic skies are opening (and the Pacific too, but I’ve got an East Coast bias). Easing air restrictions means more inter-continental flights – and hopefully cheaper tickets, thanks to the competition. This has been coming for a while, but the New York Times travel section updates the information.

One fun note: the possibility of RyanAir’s American debut (my Web design professors would have conniptions over the site design, consider yourself warned). The cheap airline – forget merely “low cost” – offers tickets starting at 10 pounds (that’s about $25, give or take) from London across Europe. The UK Telegraph in December reported that RyanAir plans to start $16 r/t tickets across The Pond (again estimating from the Pounds quote in the story). Like other cheap travel offerings, RyanAir works because they offer no frills, ask passengers to put up with delays and other issues, and charge through the nose for every little extra – expect that $16 to balloon after fees for luggage, children (even when seated on their parents’ laps), misplaced passes, and so on. Still, that’s far less than a British Airlines flight, and who wants to pay an extra $300 just for the tea and clotted cream? (Which, by the way, is awesome and almost a reason for flying BA across the Atlantic. Almost).

The changes won’t start until next year. But the really fun bit is the end of the Telegraph story – the possibility of more low-cost flights to India and the Middle East.