DC to NYC by Luxury Mini-Bus for $90 each Way – The Royal Sprinter


Thanks to a reader for sending:

“I’d love to see what the PoPville community has to say about this venture…”

Washington Business Journal reports on the plan from the owner of Grand Central DC in Adams Morgan and Brickside Food & Drink in Bethesda – the buses have:

“just eight reclining leather seats. Amenities include DirecTV, WiFi and complimentary refreshments. DC-to-NYC service starts April 11 for $90 each way.”

The Royal Sprinter website says:

“Twice daily service to and from DC and NY, leaving DC at 7 am and 9:30 am and departing NY at 3:00 pm and 7:00 pm, $90 each way.

Our Mercedes Sprinter vehicles are custom-designed and built to exact specifications to exude an atmosphere of optimum relaxation and luxury. Each vehicle can host up to eight passengers, allowing for plenty of personal space, privacy and peace. Diamond-quilted black leather seats line the 170-inch extended model on an angle, so that guests have no one directly in front of or behind them. Each seat not only reclines, but also includes leg extensions so that guests can fully unwind. Dark wood colored floors and overhead cabinets highlight the interior, while tinted windows and special lighting further set the tone for a luxurious ride.

Washington, DC – West End/Downtown
1201 24th Street, NW

Washington, DC – Chevy Chase
4300 Military Road NW


New York City – Midtown Manhattan
540 Park Avenue (at 61st Street)”

You can read more about the service here.


80 Comment

  • Would be worthwhile in the alternative universe where the Amtrak Northeast Corridor doesn’t exist.

  • It seems cool, but at the price point why don’t you just take the northeast regional amtrak, or even Accela.

  • What’s the target demographic? People willing to spend nearly $200 on a round-trip to NYC would rather take the train, which shaves an hour off the trip.

    • The train costs way more than that, unless you book far in advance, which I don’t always do.

      • Far in advance? Three weeks for minimum pricing.

      • Even for same day tickets the train is $120-$230 round trip depending on what time you travel (rush hour fares are jacked up due to so many business travelers but don’t cost more than $250). If you book a week in advance the NE Regional is around $140 and the Acela is around $200-230 roundtrip. That makes this luxury Sprinter a little less expensive, but still 2 hours slower as the train will take around 3-3.5 hours. Still, I’ve personally never had a problem with the bus, which usually costs around $60 roundtrip, and has better pickup and dropoff times. I do think the Sprinter could be fun for special events such as bachelor/ette parties, but I would just go with the bus for normal service.

        • every single time I’ve checked amtrak for NYC trips, it’s minimum $80 one-way, up to $200 one-way. So for an average $200+ round trip, I’ve never taken the train and always go for the bus. agree this would be fun to book one up with your friends and it’s not a bad price to get you to NYC comfortably.

      • The regional train from DC to NYC is $84 each way with advance purchase.

        • I get my DC to NYC NE Regional tickets for $46 each way. You have to buy about 5 weeks or so in advance.

          • Sometimes you have to buy three months in advance to get that $46. I tried to get DC to NYC tickets 9 weeks in advance just last weekend, and they were already $150 each way for the times I wanted. The early AMs weren’t even at $46.

  • if it doesn’t sell out WEEKS in advance, it’s not the worst idea i’ve ever heard. i’ll be honest: i’d do it. ever tried to buy an Acela ticket 3 days before you leave? dynamic pricing will always win. besides, from where i live the pickup locations are easier to get to than Union Station.

  • Amtrak is getting increasingly expensive, even for regional service, unless you can buy your ticket a month ahead of time. I would consider this service, though summer NJ Turnpike traffic would remain a concern.

    • I agree. I am trying to book a trip to NYC right now and for two people, round trip, its 650 bucks.

    • What NJ Turnpike traffic? I grew up in New Jersey and have been making monthly trips up there ever since I moved to DC 8 years ago. The Turnpike leg of the trip is always the least congested (DE used to be the worst, but now I’d say it’s the stretch from DC to Baltimore).

      • Truth. Particularly Sunday late afternoon/early evening returning to DC.

      • Also making monthly trips to visit family in NY, and yes, traffic in Maryland on 95 is the worst. Turnpike is fine, DE is getting better, but I always hit traffic in MD.

        Also I would not do this bus/sprinter thing, it takes just as long the bus and has no bathrooms. The train is expensive for the times I travel to NY (Friday-Sunday weekend trips) but it’s worth the extra money for me to get to NYC in 3.5 hours. Sometimes even flying to LGA is cheaper than the NE Regional.

      • Thank you. The snide comments people are constantly making about the Turnpike are not only unfair (you don’t see us characterizing other people’s home states by their highways, do you?) but are not even based on reality. When I moved to Northern Virginia I found myself wishing that traffic moved as efficiently on 495, 395, and 66 as it did on the Turnpike.

        When I went to argue a very subjective traffic violation in Fairfax County the judge saw I was from New Jersey (it happened the first week I moved there, before I’d had a chance to change license/registration) and– to my horror– brought up the New Jersey Turnpike as evidence that I was guilty of the alleged violation. This was in lieu of the real evidence presented by my witness and by my perfectly clean driving record. I don’t know how the Turnpike ever got a bad rap but it’s been hurting the reputation of the state and its residents/former residents ever since.

        • See today’s thread about the speeding violation in Virginia. No surprise that a traffic judge in Virginia was nothing short of a corrupt dick and making decision not based on the rule of law.

      • The one time I drove from D.C. to NYC, I made it there in about 4 hours (on a Friday night)… but the return trip (on a Sunday afternoon/evening) took something like SEVEN HOURS, in large part because of traffic on the New Jersey Turnpike.
        Driving made sense for that one particular trip (it was on short notice), but given that just the tolls cost almost as the Washington Deluxe bus, I took the bus thereafter.

        • Maybe that level of NJ Turnpike traffic was anomalous, but for me, once was enough — I didn’t want to mess with it again unless I was on the bus and had the option of napping.

          • I think I’ve made enough trips up and down that corridor to say it was anomalous. There have certainly been occasions where the trip took twice as long as it should have, but it was usually due to MD traffic.

        • It took me EIGHT HOURS to get from DC to Alexandria once because the traffic was so bad. Even a bad day in NJ has nothing on a bad day here!

  • pablo .raw

    Sounds boring, unlike the adventure of taking the chinatown bus. Suggestion to PoP: “Tell your favorite chinatown bus story!”

  • This seems like it would be most worthwhile if you were travelling with 7 friends for some type of party or event. Something like a bachelor party or going to see a game/concert.

    • Oh wait, just saw that alcohol is prohibited. Never mind.

      • Plus there are no toilets. If booze were permitted and there were secure lavatory facilities on-board, I would use this for sure for sure. And I’d call it “The Booze-Liner!” the whole time until I passed out just north of Philadelphia.

  • Actually, I think this could fit in an in-between spot between the bus and the train. My next trip up to NYC, the train will be $150-200 each way. This will be a little more than half the cost, and would probably be more quiet/relaxing than the bus. The limited times could be a drawback, but I would actually consider it.

  • Might be worth the money if it came with its own HOV lane to get you to NYC in 3.5 hours. Three times the cost of Bolt, Mega, etc, and no faster? No thanks.

  • Somewhat similar to Vamoose’s Gold Bus, just smaller: http://www.vamoosebus.com/pages/gold.aspx

    • Smilla

      Vamoose’s Gold Bus rocks! Love the single seats, and it’s always really quiet whenever I’ve taken it. $60 each way.

  • Additionally, no on-board restrooms

  • I’d much rather take the train. That said, I went up to NYC last weekend to see friends and wanted tickets with 5 days notice. Even the Northeast Regional was $150 each way five days before my trip. That said, no bathroom is terrible. You would be pulling over all the time (and god forbid you get someone with IBS or a chronic urination issue).

    • To be honest, I would never use this bus service because they offer free snacks and drinks but NO BATHROOM!

      I’m the kind of person who always gets an aisle seat on the plane because I like being able to get up to go to the bathroom as often as I want without bothering anyone. If for some reason I have to have a window seat I’ll go easy on the liquids because I’d rather be a little thirsty than uncomfortable/constantly bothering the people next to me by getting up.

  • I think Amtrak Regional is about $75 each way if you buy your tickets a week in advance. So this is only a break in price if you would usually take the Acela or buy tickets at the last minute. I’d only be likely to do this with a group of people, or if I could do it at the last minute — which would be great, since one of the pick-up locations is extremely convenient for me. On the other hand, I’d much rather be at Penn Station in NYC than 61st and Park, so, overall, I’d probably still go for the train. Sounds cushy though! And a cool thing to do as a group trip.

    • $75 each way is only for shitty times (think 2am departure). It’s definitely a lot more than that if you want to go at a normal hour of the day, even multiple weeks ahead of departure.

      • +1 I take the train frequently for work and my recent trips- even with advanced planning- have been in the $250-300 RT range for the NE regional and in the $500+ range for the Acela.

      • I make this trip 3 or 4 times a year and have never had this experience. I typically plan about 3 weeks out and travel at totally reasonable times (e.g., 10am, 1pm) and never pay more than $75 one way. I do find that you need to plan considerably further ahead if you want to get this kind of fair on a holiday weekend.

        • Are you traveling on weekends or weekdays? I haven’t seen a fare below $120 on a Friday or Sunday afternoon/evening in years (including regular, non-holiday weekends). And this is shopping a month or so in advance.

          • Agree with you. I go up to NYC about one weekend per month and often book 4 to 6 weeks in advance. There’s no way you can get a Friday evening/Sunday evening fare for less than $100 each way. And then I just go directly to the DC2NY website.
            Also, with enough notice you can get a roundtrip DCA-NYC flight for $100. Still, the time usually are not ideal and you have to pay to get to/from the airport into NYC.

          • Saturday mornings are always a better bet. Never paid more than 150 round trip arriving on a sat morning leaving sun afternoon.

          • oh and I just remembered. I’m going to NYC in August round trip for 90 bucks leaving on a Friday and returning on a Sunday night.

          • I took the regional from NYC last Sunday and it was $84. Left at 3 pm and booked it the night before (though all other times were at least $120).

          • Anon @3:34, you got super lucky. I traveled back from NY on the same day at that exact same time and started looking for train tickets three weeks out. I checked every day for a week, and everything on Sunday afternoon (especially the 3 pm-ish ones) were over $150. So I went with the bus.

          • Saturday morning to Sunday afternoon? It’s not worth my time to go to NYC for 30 hours, lol. I mean, what’s the point?

          • Go up at 7 or 8am on a Sat come back around 8pm on a Sunday. You have plenty of time.

          • I’m with hmm — and maybe it’s when I go — which is often, but not always, early-ish on Saturday, returning late-ish to very late on Sunday. When I can be flexible, I’ve often found that while the fare I get for my first choice train from “Julie” is high, maybe the train prior to that one or immediately after that one is a lot less. I’ve been doing this pretty frequently for many years, and rarely had a problem with high fares except around holidays or when I’ve tried to buy a ticket in the station close to the train departure time.

          • I travel on the weekend every month, and I usually have to book more than two months in advance to get the $50 tickets. They do exist, and at reasonable times, just gotta get them early.

      • Agree completely. I’d call the “standard” one way as 133 lately.

  • I would definitely consider this. Amtrak is expensive. I tried to buy tickets for a weekend trip to NY a month and a half out and the regional was pricing to over $300 round trip. The only $49 fares were at midnight.
    This sounds like a fancier version of the Vamoose Gold Bus, which is already very nice. Bolt is fine for getting to NY, but their NY pick up spot is such a disorganized mob scene, I avoid it like the plague. I usually take Vamoose, but the DC drop offs are not convenient spots for me.

  • Yes if you buy Amtrak last minute it can be expensive. With just a little bit of planning you can get perfectly reasonable times at affordable prices. I’m going to NYC twice this summer and both round trips are around 90 each. I’ve scheduled other trips with less lead time and have gotten tickets in the 160-250 range round trip. Let’s not be ridiculous here.

    • This is my experience with Amtrak pricing as well. Taken with the difference in travel time, I doubt I would ever consider this bus as a reasonable alternative.

    • I’m a regular Amtrak rider, and love it, but the fares to NYC are $50 each way except for the very rare $38 fares that are in the middle of the night and advertised heavily, so $90RT is not possible except in the rarest of circumstanses.

      I’ve been doing this trip 5+ times a year on Amtrak for 10 years now. Until recently, you could always get the $50/each way trip if you booked far enough in advance… no longer. That fare is only regularly available if you go at very off times. Now i’m seeing more like $80-$100 each way for reasonable times (ex: depart DC between 3-8pm on Thursday and return Sunday afternoon) even if booked in advance. I will still choose this over a $90 luxury bus because of reliability and traffic.

      • Those 90 RT fares are not unicorns I have them. To be fair I booked them 6 months in advance, but I got them.

  • I’d love if there was a good alternative to Amtrak that allowed pets. Alas, this company says no.

  • the thought of “complimentary refreshments”… but no toilet, on a 5.5 hour “luxurious ride” already have me doing the peepee dance just thinking about it.

    I’ll take the train.

  • Seems silly to me. Amtrak trumps buses because of timeliness much more than because of comfort. Buses are much better now than they were in the days of the Greyhound and Chinatown duopoly. The Boltbus and Washington Deluxe buses are pretty comfortable and have WiFi. In this era of tablets and smartphones, who cares about DirecTV?

  • Maybe I’ve been unlucky, but I’ve often had problems and delays taking the train and I never seem to get the cheap fares that other people talk about.

    • that’s strange, I took the train every two weeks for two years to go to business school and on only 2 occasions did we have problems, and both of them were related to extremely unusual weather.

    • The one time that I sprung for the Acela on my own dime, the train broke down, we all had to offload at Baltimore and then jam onto the next train an hour or so later. Certainly not worth the extra $$.

    • When I’ve had problems with Amtrak that were not related to unusual weather conditions, it’s often been on the few long-haul trains like the Carolinian, that go beyond the DC/Boston route.

  • Are you people seriously saying you would not use it because no bathroom? It makes a stop so who can’t hold it for 2 hours unless you are a small child or geriatric. Pretty sad. And luxury is not for everyone. Have you been in Penn Station? Disgusting standing there waiting like cattle being herded for your track to show up or even worse a regular bus that has a tiny peed on toilet and no sink to even wash your hands after! I would rather make one stop at a rest stop and least wash my hands. If there are only 8 seats on board I don’t think they are trying to get everyone to ride, only someone who really wants luxury. I will try it, watching Game of Thrones Sunday night coming back from NY sounds better than sitting on Vamoose next to a NASTY bathroom that stinks.

    • Yeah, I have a small bladder and a bad habit of drinking a lot of coffee/tea on road trips, but I can manage to make this trip with only one or two pit stops. I’d rather hold it until a rest stop than have a public restroom traveling with me the whole way.

    • I’d rather use the $120 I saved by taking a normal bus on a nice restaurant in NYC, but YMMV.

      • Same here, but we’re talking about the lack of bathroom being a dealbreaker. I think that’s silly.

        • It’s a deal-breaker for me on top of the other factors: including limited service, longer travel time, and a relatively inconvenient stop in NYC. For the same price I can get more flexibility, the ability to walk around during the travel process, a cafe option, a shorter travel time, AND the ability to go to the restroom if and when I need to. It’s not a huge deal — but on top of the other factors, it matters. I’d rather have a restroom and not need it then need it and not have it. I also wonder how they handle luggage — since I often go to NYC to shop. If 8 people do major shopping, I wonder if they have ample storage space?

    • Yep, that’s exactly what *I’m* saying. I have a tiny bladder (or at least it seems that way), and I like to grab a coffee at the start of road/rail trips, so holding in a grande/Venti Starbucks’ cup worth of coffee for two hours might be theoretically possible, but it could get extremely uncomfortable. That’s no knock on this bus service, or on people who can store up their pee like a camel (my partner is one of those people), I just would prefer the convenience and (relative) comfort of having a bathroom on hand and from the looks of this thread, lots of other people would as well. And I’ll bet there’s enough customer traffic to keep this bus AND Amtrak AND the existing buses in business. Win-win-win. (Also, I’ve waited for trains in Penn Station (and Union) many, many times, and it can be crowded, yes, but “disgusting” sounds a little melodramatic.)

  • The competition doesn’t seem to be the bus on the train, but driving. If you’ve got free parking available (e.g., friends or family in the burbs or outer boroughs) or don’t mind street parking, which isn’t that expensive in NY, driving is a breeze. Not even a full tank of gas for me. Or one of my little secrets is to drive to Metropark, park there and take the NJ Transit into manhattan.

  • ItsPetworthIt

    Love it! Much less stressful than the bus… and both less stressful and less expensive than the train. Count me in!

  • I think they could lower the price point to $75 o/w if they had more seats. I was a fan of the Limoliner when I lived in Boston. Granted, that was before wifi and outlets were on regular buses. They did serve lunch and have a bathroom though. There was even a bus attendant. http://www.limoliner.com for comparison.

    Oh, and I think Amtrak is expensive as well, but I love them.

  • In July/August this bus should become a Rehoboth Jitney. Could rake in the cash, charging even $125 each way.

  • I am assuming everyone complaining about no bathrooms are women. I can’t believe men have trouble holding it for four hours.

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