Fung Wah Transport Vans operates a shuttle service between Boston and New York City. Their vans are substantially cheaper and less comfortable than Greyhound or Bonanza. The trip takes between 4 and 5 hours, depending on traffic and how fast the driver goes. (Bonanza schedules for 5 hours, but they also stop to change buses in Providence.) Usually they stop at a McDonald's and rest area on I-95 in Connecticut.

Fung Wah has both airport-shuttle-type minibuses (relatively comfy seats, but too little legroom) and regular old 15-seater Econolines (I've never ridden one of these, but I can guess how comfortable it is). I guess the minibuses run at peak times. There is no luggage space, so everybody piles their bags under their seat and in the aisle. In my experience it's not necessary to arrive more than 15-20 minutes early in order to get a seat, but I've only ridden the 4pm run each way, which is a minibus. The drivers do not speak much English; when I've ridden, the passengers have been about half Chinese and half not.

As of January 2002, the Fung Wah schedule was as follows.

BOSTON - Crown Royal Bakery, 68 Beach St, (617) 338-8885. Near Chinatown on the Orange Line and Downtown Crossing and South Station on the Red Line. Buy a ticket at the Fung Wah table in the bakery and they will point you to the bus. Departures at 7 or 8 for $15; 10, 12, 13, 14, 16, 17, 19, 23.30 for $25.

NEW YORK - Mahayana Buddhist Temple, 139 Canal St, room 101, (212) 925-8889. Take the shuttle from West 4th St (on the A-C-E and F-V) or Broadway and Lafayette (on the 4-5-6 and F-V) to Grand St. There is a ticket window plainly marked "Fung Wah" on the front wall of the temple, and buses stop right in front of it. Departures at 7, 8, 9, 11, 12, 13 for $25; 16, 17, 19 for $15; 22 for $25 again.

A standard round trip ticket is $45, but there is a special for $20 if you take an early cheap one from Boston and a late cheap one back.

I highly recommend these people if you just want to get there and don't want to mess around with a lot of stuff or pay a lot. At $25 I'm not sure if it's worth the discomfort, but $15 (less than half a Bonanza ticket) is a steal.

Update, August 2003: They have, and have had for a while, a website: www.fungwahbus.com. Thanks also to the noder (whose name I've forgotten) who msg'd me this several months back. Since last year Fung Wah has also acquired several full-size coach (Greyhound-type) buses, which are much comfier than either small kind.

At the moment all Boston-New York tickets are $10 each way, probably because competing van companies recently started offering $10 one-way tickets. There are also a couple of New York-Providence runs for $25 one-way, $45 round trip.

Fifteen dollars, four hours (if you've been good to God this week), and you'll go from Boston to New York. Since all these excellent writeups were written, the market has thinned -- the buses now cost fifteen dollars, all the time, and I'll be damned if you can get one to Providence.

I stopped at Barnes and Noble to pick up a book for the ride (it was much too dark to read by the time we crept out of the city) and caught the 8 PM from Boston. That was the theory, at least. The rude seventeen-year-old Chinese kid at the counter informed me, in one word, that there would be no 8 o'clock bus this evening, and that I would have to wait at South Station until nine.

I mean, at this point, I appreciate that the buses don't leave from the corner of Beach and Harrison anymore, probably one of the few places in Boston that you might run into prostitutes and creeps. But I hadn't lived there very long, so I ventured into Chinatown to buy a notebook. Which was impossible, of course, because nothing in Chinatown is open after about three P.M. What I did get to do was run into a creepy guy who informed me that a bunch of people had drugged him and attacked him, stolen his money, apparently caused him to forget how to wear a shirt, and so on and so on. I hate the South Station terminal, still do.

When I gave up and got back, I went to eat at McDonalds, where a little old guy who must have been at least sixty was cutting pills in half, mixing them with milk and applesauce, and putting them in Gatorade bottles while he talked to himself. The security guard was watching him, in an amiable way, as he took up two-thirds of the seats with grocery bags and other paraphrenalia. Later I saw him in the bathroom screaming at a mirror.

But anyway. That stuff is all Boston's fault, and Fung Wah had the good sense to move upstairs, out of the charming street scene. I got on the nine o'clock, which was a van, and used my awesome Greyhound-acquired skills (headbanging to loud music, looking really angry) to ensure that the seat next to mine remained the only empty seat on the bus. Don't underestimate the value of this. On a later trip, I ended up next to a nineteen-year-old girl who talked for hours to a creepy forty-year old man about his adventures in Europe. FAS-cinating. She made phone calls, too. "Uh, hi, I'm uh -- in New York somewhere -- on some bridge -- what? what? Triboro Bridge -- stuck in traffic, I'm going to be late. No, tell Grandma to keep --," and so on.

The van broke down on the Turnpike, but I guess that's expected. The driver got it started again. We rolled into New York without further problems, and the driver got on the Whitestone Expressway.

Huh.

About an hour later, the bus stopped by the side of the road. One of the natives had slipped the driver a ten to drop him off at his house. In Flushing. There was a brief revolt. One man demanded to get off, but the driver actually wouldn't let him without extra money. I was supposed to meet a friend at NYU about two and a half hours earlier.

We got there. That night I ended up sleeping on the Bowery for lack of a better plan, until the Fung Wah folks showed up to open the office (45 minutes late) and I dragged my sorry ass back to Boston.

But it's cheaper than the train.


http://www.ivymedia.com/ will refer you to Chinatown buses between any two cities, which is pretty handy. Some of the Boston buses make easier stops than Chinatown, such as the Port Authority and the Upper East Side.

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