Whether you want to swing by NYC for spring break or take a trip to D.C. to view the Cherry Blossoms, it’s pretty convenient to travel around the Northeast. Here is a quick overview of some methods for commuting that depart from Baltimore Penn Station. They make East Coast traveling quick, comfortable, and easy on your wallet.
The MARC Train
Leaving from Baltimore Penn Station, the Maryland Area Regional Commuter (MARC) train makes convenient stops at BWI with local stops in areas such as West Baltimore and Halethorpe. The train can also drop you off at popular locations like Union Station at Washington D.C. for convenient traveling. Instead of heading out in your friend’s car the next time you want to take a trip, think about boarding the MARC instead.
Advantages: Who doesn’t want comfy chairs during a quick ride from Baltimore Penn Station to Washington D.C. Union Station? Not only a pleasant way to commute, the MARC train is also great for frugal travelers. It can shoot you from Baltimore to D.C. in about an hour for $7.00. And it gets better! If you’re not traveling during busy periods, such as the start of summer break at Hopkins, the MARC train is relatively empty. So, there’s no rush for booking tickets weeks in advance or claiming a seat once you’re on the train.
With departure times at least once an hour between 4am and 9pm, the MARC train has flexible travel times. No worries if you accidently leave Hopkins a little behind schedule and miss the JHMI shuttle. Plus, when you purchase a ticket, you’re free to use that ticket to travel towards your intended destination on any train MARC around the same time period.
As a last note, I recommend using the MARC train to commute from Hopkins to BWI the next time you travel. For only $4.00, one ride on the MARC can transport you and your luggage to the airport in less than half an hour!
Disadvantages: The MARC train is useful for traveling to areas surrounding Baltimore, but it’ll take you no farther than Washington D.C. and the communities around the capital. Also, unlike other rail services, the MARC train does not have late night rides after about 9:30pm. You might also want to grab some chips or a protein bar before heading onto the MARC since it does not have a food car.
The Amtrak Trains
A rail service that serves both the United States and Canada, Amtrak trains are an efficient way to get around the entire eastern seaboard. Similar to the MARC, Amtrak provides services that fit the need of your schedules and budget. However, Amtrak has additional comforts that will satisfy any traveler.
Advantages: Although prices range from around $11.00 to over $100 depending on the time of travel and the destination, Amtrak trains give you freedom in traveling and are significantly more affordable than flights for the same destinations. They have convenient amenities such as food in the Café Car and electrical outlets for your electronics. Amtrak also runs multiple times every hour on a nearly 24 hour basis to take you anywhere from Washington D.C. to Boston. And if you want to go even farther, there are connections from its Northeastern trains to rails that can transport you all the way to Miami. And never worry, Amtrak train tickets can be claimed as credit for future purchases if you’re travel plans suddenly change and you no longer need the ticket.
Disadvantages: Similar to airplane tickets, Amtrak tickets need to be booked early in advance for peak travel seasons such as Thanksgiving or spring break. Prices definitely soar once you book close to those travel dates! Also, ticket prices to places such as Washington D.C. are slightly higher for Amtrak than the MARC; therefore, you should definitely compare competing prices across different service operators if you want the most out of your money.
Don’t be alarmed; the Bolt Bus is nothing like the haggard orange school bus from childhood, or the community buses with quirky passengers. The Bolt Bus is similar to the tour buses that you may have used during school trips. And if you’re not tight on time to get from point A to point B, travel on the Bolt Bus can be quite relaxing.
Advantages: Equipped with reclining seats, electrical outlets, and free wi-fi, the Bolt Bus has all the conveniences you want for a few hours of commute. On average, the price for traveling to places such as Manhattan is around $25. This inexpensive mode of transportation also has convenient stops for destinations like Newark, and makes commuting to major cities a breeze.
The Bolt Bus also has a travel reward system that awards a complimentary trip towards any destination for every 8 trips purchased. For frequent travelers that have a free account with the Bolt Bus website, this system is an awesome way to get a free trip and save. In addition to raking up the rewards, becoming a member of the Bolt Bus system will also allow you to board early on all your trips since you will be placed in Boarding Group A.
Disadvantages: There’s no helping it. The Bolt Bus is usually filled to capacity around busy travel periods, so there will probably be a passenger seated right next to you. Since it is a bus, you may have to settle with less personal space. You will also have to load and unload your own luggage into the trunk of the bus, so think twice before bringing a packed suitcase twice your weight. Also keep in mind, the travel times on the Bolt Bus will be significantly longer. For example, driving from Baltimore to New York City will require at least three and a half hours. If you’re on a strict time schedule for your commute, the Bolt Bus may not be for you.