Big Apple or Bust! – Commuting from the Lehigh Valley to NYC

Is your dream to work in New York City? Are you worried about spending loads of money to live in the Big Apple or just do not want to because you love life in the Lehigh Valley? If you are shaking your head yes, the solution is simple – commute. In the Lehigh Valley, train and ferry service isn’t easily available. It takes work just to get to those services and involves using yet another form of transportation to do so. So what ARE the choices? Transportation options include buses, carpooling, taxis, Ubers, Lyfts or driving your own vehicle. All have their pros and cons.

Ok, carpooling. If you are an organized person, you can pull this off. It takes coordinating everyone’s schedules and accounting for anyone in your group who may need to work early or late. There is the risk of someone getting sick and missing a turn driving, causing last-minute adjustments.

Joining a group of commuters is a “green” choice and does have the potential to save you loads of money on gas and traveling fees. It also allows you to work or rest (if it is not your turn to drive) and to socialize with your carpool mates. If you do not already know a group of carpoolers to join, there are online resources like Carpool World and RideGuru to “steer” you in the right direction.

Driving your own car is a great way to retain freedom from a fixed schedule and have complete control over noise, temperature controls and route taken to your final destination – oh, and choice of music! You want to hang out for dinner, a show or shopping after work? You can, you drove!

There is an expense factor with driving your own car. Wear and tear, gas, maintenance, and ultimately just finding a place to park, which is likely going to mean a parking permit with a hefty fee. Monthly parking spaces range from $400 to $1000 in downtown neighborhoods. Don’t forget the ever-changing laws and newly-proposed congestion fees for drivers too. Cha-ching!

Taxis/Ubers/Lyft… These options offer personalized service and there is an argument on value since you have the choice to share the ride or not. There are convenient apps to book your rides, make your payments and track your driver. You can book rides at a moment’s notice in most cases and you can know that there will be plenty of room for your luggage, etc. Further, most taxi companies offer 24/7 service and employees are held to their companies policies of conduct which is a plus.

So the cost? Not as great as one would hope. If you want a car, Uber or Lyft it will cost about $130 from the Lehigh Valley to New York’s Port Authority. Want an SUV? That will cost you closer to $200. Taxis are even pricier at an average of $277! That’s a lot of cash out of your paycheck.

Don’t forget that car services and taxis often have higher rates during peak times and days when there is excessive demand. Taxi-meters can malfunction, so you need to be vigilant and keep an eye out. If you’re a commuter, is a taxi / Uber / Lyft service able to sustain your schedule long-term?

Although hailed as safe options, the lack of regulations on drivers can result in individuals driving that have undesirable intentions. We are seeing news stories popping up about predators posing as drivers more and more. Always ask the name of the person they are picking up before getting into the vehicle. Again, vigilance.

Buses. They seem to have been around since God was a boy, but there is a reason for that. Buses provide a reliable, scheduled service, with specific pick-up and drop-off points.

The Lehigh Valley is serviced by several bus companies including Greyhound Bus, Fullington Trailways, Trans-Bridge Lines, and OurBus/Klein. Each company has their own schedules, arrival and departure locations, policies, and standards. Compare and make your own conclusions about who to give your business to. Every passenger will have their own set of criteria that is important to them, but it will ultimately come down to schedule times. Does the company offer times that correspond with your schedule? Are there options in case you are running late?

You also need to make sure that if you are driving to the bus stop, there is a drop-off area or place to park your car, with or without a permit, free or for a fee.

Greyhound Bus has runs to New York departing from Allentown, Easton, Quakertown and Lehighton. Route times are not commuter-friendly but if their few runs work for you, they do have a rewards program and different types of tickets including economy, economy extra and flexible tickets. Average tickets price for a one-way is about $24-$34 for economy. * Note that economy extra and flexible may not be available choices on all runs.

Fullington Trailways features buses to New York from Bath, Easton and Allentown. Again, times are not frequent and tickets range from $30-$40 on for a one-way.* Ride times range from 1 ½ hours to over 2 hours.

Klein’s Transportation is a partner with OurBus. OurBus has service from the Lehigh Valley and Berks County area with pick-ups in Douglassville, Reading, Kutztown, Wescosville, and Hellertown. These tickets can be purchased online and the schedule is seven days a week with times conducive for commuters. The average ticket price between $12 and $20.*

Trans-Bridge Lines serves commuters with departure points in the Lehigh Valley, Bucks County, New Jersey and Newark and JFK Airports. Weekday service is available to Lower Manhattan, Wall Street and Jersey City from the Lehigh Valley and Clinton. Average cost of a One-Way ticket to New York is $23.55-$33.55, with offerings of Commuter Books in 10, 20, 30 and 40-trip increments at deeply discounted rates.*

The downside of buses is the unpredictable. Traffic patterns can wreak havoc on a time schedules and breakdowns can cause delays. Tires blow out, accidents happen and mother nature is more fickle than ever. You will need to have a flexible schedule or an understanding boss.

You have choices … What works for your commute, might not be feasible for another individual. Make the choice that best fits your schedule, family life and entertainment time. Decide what you value for your time. That may be a quick commute so that you are home for your children at a decent time or a flexible schedule that allows for working late or after-hours entertainment.

And hey, if you try one form of transportation and it doesn’t work, try something else, but LIVE YOUR DREAM!

*Please note all ticket prices published in this article are estimates and are subject to change by those companies inclination to do so.