Anyone who lives in or around Atlantic City knows that public transit to New York is biased toward casino travelers traveling in the other direction. Greyhound charges more for a round-trip ticket starting from Atlantic City than for that same ticket starting from New York. New Jersey Transit is cheaper but only runs 12 schedules a day at not-so-convenient times.
After months of commuting back and forth, I have found the cheapest there-and-back bus tickets for AC residents: $36. That’s a steep discount from the insane $58 charge from Greyhound (if you buy online) and it’s a slight discount from the cheapest NJTransit offer, which is $42, but is limited schedule-wise.
The trick is to buy a one-way ticket from Atlantic City and then purchase a separate one-way ticket in New York, with Greyhound. Greyhound charges just $15 for a one-way ticket to Atlantic City (that includes a bonus to gamble in the casinos!). With fees for buying at the ticket machine, it’s $16. To get this special price, you have to select “Atl City Casinos, NJ” as your destination at the machine or online:
Here are the options for cheapest travel to NYC:
Option One – Absolute Cheapest Option for People who Don’t Travel to NYC Frequently and Don’t Need WiFi
Buy an NJTransit excursion ticket for $42 (NJTransit doesn’t discriminate between in-app, online or physical purchases, so no fees). It gives you two one-way tickets that must be used within 10 days. Use one of the tickets to travel to the Port Authority. There is a bus at 6 am and 4.15 am. You will always get a seat. Then use the other ticket to get home. Just be aware that the afternoon/evening returns are limited to: 2.30, 4.45, 6, 6.45, 8.45 and 11.30. But if you miss one of those you can try the next option:
Option Two – Absolute Cheapest Option for People who Travel Frequently or with Companions and Like WiFi, Sometimes
This option works if you travel to New York and back at least twice every ten days. Start by buying the same NJ Transit excursion ticket for $42. Use one ticket to get to the Port Authority. When you are ready to come back to Atlantic City, buy a single trip with Greyhound for $15 at the counter ($16 at the machine). Your total trip cost is then $36, and you have an excursion ticket left over for your next trip. Alternatively, if you’re traveling with a companion, you can give them the other ticket for the way out (I think. I haven’t tried this in person, so I don’t know if NJ Transit will let you use a two-trip excursion ticket on the same bus).
Option Three – Cheapest Option for Last-Minute Travel to NYC and Back
Greyhound’s frequent 24-hour schedules is the best bet for last-minute travelers. You can make the trip cheaper by buying the ticket at the counter in Atlantic City (just be aware that it’s hard to find the staff late at night or early in the morning). Greyhound charges $2.50 each way for booking online and $1 each way for booking via its terminals. So the same roundtrip ticket to New York booked at the counter can be as low as $53 or as much as $58 if you book online.
Other AC-NYC Commuting Notes:
Bathrooms: I wasn’t aware that the 319, which looks like a regular NJTransit commuter bus, has a bathroom. This guy on Quora says it does have one. There is a bathroom on the Greyhound. Sometimes it’s out of order. Sometimes someone is smoking in it.
319: There is a community feeling on the 319 bus from Atlantic City that is something like the transit version of Mr Roger’s Neighborhood: The bus driver knows all the commuters’ names. Maybe I’m overstating this, but when the comparison ride is filled with people who can’t handle two and a half hours without a cigarette, the 319 seems idyllic.
Crowding: The Greyhound from the Atlantic City bus station is less reliable than Greyhound from the casino, notoriously, since if the bus fills up at the casino, often the driver will head straight to New York without stopping at the terminal to pick up angry passengers. It’s always worth carrying a printout of the Greyhound Lucky Streak schedule if you have to travel at peak times (say, Sundays) so you can head to Bally’s or the nearest casino and get the bus with the gamblers. NJTransit’s 319 from Atlantic City is never full, in my experience.
Toms River Park & Ride: NJTransit’s 319 bus stops at the Toms River Park & Ride, where it does fill up with passengers. The stop adds a bit of time to the journey, compared to the Greyhound, which makes no scheduled stops.
Fees: Greyhound charges a $2.50 service fee in each direction that’s not included in their ticket price, so it’s a $5 fee for a round trip ticket. According to their tariff and sales manual they don’t charge to buy from their counter, but if you want to avoid the line and the hefty fee, you can pay a lower $1 service charge from the self-serve ticket terminals.
WiFi: Greyhound has WiFi, NJTransit does not. Greyhound also has electric sockets so you can charge your devices. NJTransit does not. Greyhound’s WiFi and sockets fail to work, not infrequently.
Bicycles: The 319 bus does not have a bike rack. Greyhound supposedly allows bicycles to be stowed as luggage (they count toward the one luggage item per person that is included in the ticket price) but only if they are boxed. I have never seen this done.