Greater City Providence

How Much to Travel to NYC?

View Larger Map

One of Providence’s trumpeted advantages is its geographical proximity to both NYC and Boston. I am traveling to NYC shortly (a frequent jaunt for me and my wife) and this prompted a discussion with co-workers as to the best, most convenient, and lowest cost ways to travel. I had actually, once upon a time, priced this out for an Urbanplanet post and found the text file.

Here were the results, which aren’t a cost triumph for mass transit (especially as I was assuming a car with a poor 25 MPG highway and fuel costs a bit higher than they are now):


(includes toll and assumes no parking fees in the city)
$35.50 round trip for one or two people

New Haven option:

This is what I usually do. This is driving to New Haven Station, parking there, and then taking MetroNorth to Grand Central.

$20 round trip driving
$32 round trip on MTA
$25 parking
$77 round trip for one person
$109 round trip for two people

Peter Pan Bus:

(includes RIPTA fares to KP)
$87 round trip for one person
$174 round trip for two people


(includes RIPTA fares to downtown)
$171 round trip for one person
$338 round trip for two people

This is interesting food for thought… Obviously, this says nothing about environmental friendliness or convenience (especially in NYC with a car), but on travel logistics alone, Amtrak for the two of us would be over $300 more than driving a car. How expensive would gas have to get to begin to even this out with a bus or rail?

Bret Ancowitz


  • PVD-LGA round-trip. Leave PVD at 6:27am, arrive LGA at 7:30am, leave LGA at 8:59pm, arrive PVD at 10:15pm.

    $179.20 round-trip per person including taxes and fees.

    There are 7 flight times to choose from.

    I know this is no where near the cheapest option, but for the first time in a long time, it is in line with what the acela charges.

  • It is fascinating, though, that flying is about equal or lesser in cost to Amtrak regional rail! I found some flights at other times that are even less expensive than your example, even after taxes and fees.

    I didn’t factor in the time of travel into my post (which is equal for almost all of the options, interestingly enough, with driving and bus obviously being traffic dependent but competitive). I actually think flying might be the longest of all the options (taking travel to the airport, time to check-in, and then getting from LGA to your destination into account).

  • I’m going to DC in May and I so wanted Amtrak to work. But flying blows it out of the water in both time and cost. 🙁

    I’m thinking of what the Globe paraphrased Joe Biden saying:

    Biden said every passenger rail system in the world relies on subsidies, as do airports and highways, and that for too long Amtrak has been starved for cash.

  • The flying option doesn’t take into account $45 or so to take a cab to midtown. (and another hour or so) Less cost, but more time if you did a SuperShuttle.

    Quick searching looks like Greyhound is $68 roundtrip (with refundable tickets) it takes an hour longer than Peter Pan/Bonanza, and you have to make sure which bus you get on (otherwise it could take 5+ hours instead of 4.

    I used to take that bus all the time when I was working/performing in NY on the weekends. The schedule is pretty reliable.

  • The true cost of driving should include not just gas but also depreciation or wear and tear on your car. It is usually counted as about .25 per mile and is the biggest single expense motorists face. Your car is being incrementally “used up” with every mile you drive and the point when you will need to buy a replacement car gets closer.

    Would be interesting to see the relative costs when this expense is factored in.

  • Why not factor in parking? Having the ball and chain of a car in one of the major reasons for me never to drive into Manhattan. My favorite way to travel to NYC is the Peter Pan with a bicycle. Get out at Port Authority and ride out of the garage into the best city in the world. Nothing like it.

  • assuming no parking fees in NYC seems a little cooky. my experience is around $35/day. so depending on the length of your trip, the train can become more economical. it is surprising that there is no ‘chinatown bus’ equivalent in pvd. from boston, one can get to nyc for $1 to $10 depending on time of day. i wouldn’t recommend it if you value your life, but it’s a very inexpensive option.

  • Actually, there is a ‘chinatown’ bus from Providence. I don’t have the details of it at hand, it might actually be run by the Fung Wah people though.

  • So factoring in depreciation and parking, the full cost of driving to NYC is about $160 round trip. Another consideration is safety. Flying and taking a train are far safer options. Don’t know about the Fung Wah option and safety though.

  • The difference between driving and flying or taking the train is that costs are doubled in the latter options, but not driving, assuming you have more than 1 person. I used to live in CT and had friends who would drive into NYC because it was cheaper overall to pay for gas and parking than to pay for multiple round trip train tickets.

    The Chinatown bus used to stop at Chef Ho’s on Atwells. The sign hasn’t been there for a while now. I don’t know if it stops here anymore.

  • Lastly, there is the convenience factor of not having to drive. The many times I take the train with my young (he’s 9 now) son to the Bruins, Patriots and Red Sox games, instead of driving, is incalcuable. Not to be corny, but I cherish those rides where we had time to talk, play cards and just sit without the agravation and stress of driving. I view driving as the last option when there are other options available except when I need a car where I’m going – like our summer trips to the Cape. For a suburbanite, I’m very proud of travel habits!!

    We drive to CT and hop on Metro North. In the city, we walk or use mass transit.

  • I can’t find anything in the intertubes or on the Google Machine about the Providence to Chinatown bus. But I did see a bunch of people with bags, mostly asian, who looked to be waiting for something outside the Civic Center Garage on Fountain Street the other night.

    I bet the people at Chef Ho’s would know about it if there indeed still is such a bus.

  • It also depends where in the city you need to be. If you need to visit certain parts of Queens, say, parking will be free and you do not have to take transit from midtown.

    Some of the MetroNorth stations have cheaper parking than New Haven does. Drive a little farther, park for less, pay less on Metronorth. The prices are hard to find on line. Last I checked, Port Chester was $6.00/24hrs on weekends.

    Driving there is a chore. Everyone underestimates the cost of wear and tear and the likelihood of a crash. Still, if 2 or more people are going and you already have a car, it is pretty hard to spring for Amtrak or Bonanza.

    Off Peak Amtrak, $54.00 one way, is less than what people have been mentioning here. Sometimes I can ride Amtrak off peak for one leg of the trip and endure Bonanza for the other direction.

    The Acela is sweet though. Once I left work a little early and got to NY in time for dinner and a show.

  • Not sure how feasible this is, but Amtrak does have a “Weekend Getaway Fare” from Providence to New York for $86 per person round trip. There are some restrictions on this, the main one being that travel must originate on a Saturday with the return trip being that same day or departing by 10:59AM on Sunday.

  • Oh, I just remembered the super-cheapskate way, as practiced by an old friend.
    Cadge a ride from someone with a car to New London or Old Saybrook, ride Shoreline East to New Haven and connect to Metro North.
    Tell your friend with the car it’s only an hour and a good excuse to stop off at the Beach!
    Cost $20 – $23 each way unless your friend expects some cash as well.

  • I drive to Milford and take MetroNorth ($25. r/t pp). Parking is free on weekends at Milford, and I’ve never had a problem parking (without paying) on Fridays even if I arrive during the day (free parking technically starts at 7pm). Milford is only about 10 minutes down 95 from New Haven.

  • There is a recent option to NYC on Fung Wah bus. Even though the $40 fare isn’t comparable to those from Boston but for a travel time of 3 hrs seem to offset the cost.

    The drawback is the current schedule of 8am and 10am departures from Providence and 4:15pm and 6:15pm departures from NYC. I do think an evening departure from Providence would have made it a more attractive option.

    I posted some photos on flickr:

Providence, RI
Mostly Cloudy
5:22 am8:20 pm EDT
Feels like: 84°F
Wind: 8mph S
Humidity: 88%
Pressure: 30.07"Hg
UV index: 2
90°F / 72°F
93°F / 72°F
93°F / 77°F