Bus travel for the frugal

There have never been so many options for inter-city travel, from quick regional jet flights to Amtrak to the renowned, and sometimes infamous Fung Wah bus service. The bus is the most economical option for traveling the northeast corridor into and out of New York, but not everyone knows just how financially smart it can be.

The established bus services, including Greyhound, Fung Wah and Lucky Star bus, have dominated the market for years, and offer tickets for travel between cities like NYC and Boston, and NYC and Philadelphia, for between $15 and $27 each way. However, recent years has seen the entry of new bus services, including Megabus.com and the Bolt Bus.

Megabus and Bolt Bus are similar in gimmick, in that they offer bus fares into and out of New York for as low as $1. Yes, you're reading it correctly. $1 to get to cities like Boston, Philadelphia and D.C. How do they do it? They use a similar system to airline booking policies, where certain tickets on a particular route are sold cheaper, and get more expensive as the date of travel approaches. For example, you might be able to book a flight from JFK to Fort Lauderdale, FL in December for travel in April, for $89 on Jetblue. But, as you get closer to that April travel date, you'll find the fare slowly creeps up (recent JetBlue fares to Florida for last-minute travel are listed at $214 one-way. Ouch. The bus services' fare increases aren't quite that drastic, luckily, but it's essentially the same system. On Megabus, routes generally top off at about $15, and on Megabus $17. The key to scoring cheap tickets is to book as far in advance as possible. The $1 tickets do exist, and there is no catch to them, except to book early.

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