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Cost Analysis of Traveling from DC to NYC

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My friend, recently began a prestigious internship located in New York City. She wanted me to come up to see her, so we could spend a romantic weekend together in the big apple. I live in DC and decided to do a cost analysis to see which method of travelling from DC to New York would be most convenient and cost effective.

A few stipulations I would like to make regarding this cost analysis

  1. My goal was to find the most cost effective method of travelling to Manhattan in NYC from DC.
  2. Time is a big constraint for me as well and my goal was to maximize the amount of time I spent with my friend while minimizing my travel time.

Travel Options

Here are the options that one can choose when travelling from DC to NYC.

  • Train
  • Bus
  • Plane
  • Car

Planes

Flying to NYC is very inconvenient and quite expensive. The cheapest flight I could find to NYC was $100 round trip. The problem with flying is all three airports local to NYC are inconveniently located relative to Manhattan. Cab fares are $75  each way from Laguardia/JFK, and $85 each way from Newark. The other option from Laguardia/JFK was to take a subway for $2.50 each way but took upwards of 90 minutes to get to her apartment.

A train from Newark to Manhattan cost $13 and the ETA to Manhattan would be 45 minutes. The train conveniently gets me to Penn Station but adds an extra leg of 45 minutes in my traveling time.

Putting a time table to this whole mess, it would take me 30 minutes to get to the airport in DC, 2 hours to go through security, fly and exit the airport, and an extra 90 minutes to get to Manhattan.  This puts my timetable at 4 hours of commuting with 90 minutes spend in the  boiling hot disgusting NYC subway in the summer. No thanks.

Here are charts summarizing my analysis.

Newark JFK Laguardia
Commute to Airport 30 30 30
Flight+Security 120 120 120
Train 45 0 0
Cab 45 30 30
Subway 10 90 90
Total Minutes 250 270 270

total w/ Cab Total w/ Train/Subway
Newark $185.00 $115.50
JFK $175.00 $102.50
Laguardia $175.00 $102.50

Car

Driving a car to NYC is convenient because you drive directly to your destination and do not have to rely on any public transportation, however, there are a few other costs you should be aware of.  First, parking costs in NY. Garages can cost anywhere from $20-$40  a night, and parking on the street in NYC just risks theft and getting expensive tickets if you park in the wrong place. Also you have to deal with the hassle of parking your car which can take anywhere from 10-30 minutes. The drive itself takes 4-5 hours without heavy traffic and adding an extra  10-30 minutes of parking after a long drive can be very tiring.

New York is about 240 miles away from DC. This means that if your car is the average car and uses about 25 miles per gallon on the highway, each way you are using 10 gallons of gas. Travelling both ways, you are using 20 gallons of gas multiplies by 3.30 a gallon comes out to $66 s of gas.

Tolls to and from NYC are as follows.

Tolls DC2NY NY2DC
Baltimore Tunnel $3 $3
Perryville $6 0
Delaware Bridge 0 $4
Lincoln Tunnel/GW Bridge $13 0
Delaware State $4 $4
NJ Turnpike $12.55 $12.55
Total $38.55 $23.55

This means that the total of driving to and from NYC including gas, tolls, and parking can cost upwards of $200. ($208.10 to be exact). Not the prettiest way of travelling to the city.

Train

Taking the train from DC is a very convenient option. The train gets into Penn station which is conveniently located a few stops away from her apartment. The train is also located 20 minutes away from my apartment in DC and takes 3.5 hours to get to NYC. The train has large plush seats, a food car, clean bathrooms, and a quiet car if you want to avoid noisy passengers.

The issue with the Amtrak is that the prices for convenient times to travel are much higher than the prices for inconvenient times to travel. What I mean by this is a train ticket at 5AM costs $68  if booked far in advance, however, a ticket to travel at 7AM costs $150. Because the metro service doesn’t run at 5AM, you have to pay for a cab to take you to Union Station as well and depending where you live in DC, this can cost anywhere from 10-25 dollars.

When returning from NYC, the same financial inconvenience applies. A ticket at 6PM which would get in around 10PM and provide ample time to catch a Metro, costs $150, however a ticket at 9PM costs $68 and gets in well past the metro’s closing time.

All in all, the train is a very convenient option, but it’s pricey depending on when you book your ticket and what time you book your ticket for.

Bus

Finally, the last option is the bus. The bus drops off in the exactly same place as the train does in NYC but is far less expensive than the train. It costs anywhere from 20-35 each way from DC and picks up/drops off within walking distance of my work/apartment. It also is not subject to any time limits and you can book a bus ticket at any point without risking any increase in prices. Some of the companies that offer this service are:

  1. Vamoose
  2. Greyhound
  3. Megabus
  4. Bolt
  5. DC2NY

Conclusion

Most of the time flying or driving on my own make very little  sense from pure cost standpoint. The debate is usually between taking the train and the bus. A bus will always be cheaper than taking the train; however, a bus will also be subject to traffic while a train will not. I have summarized a chart of the costs and times.

Cost Time (min)
Bus (depending on traffic) $40.00-$80.00 480/800
Train (depending time you leave) $150.00/$300.00 440
Plane (depending which airport) $103-$185 670/690
Car $208.10 600

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David Author
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47 COMMENTS

  1. Great analysis – as usual! I’ve traveled from DC to NYC for many years, and I completely agree. At this point in time, the bus is my favorite. Don’t discount the time you can save by getting some work done on the journey!

    • Beverly, thank you for reading and appreciating my analysis. Most of the buses offer WIFI and power outlets; moreover, nowadays most Android users can actually turn their phones into hotspots and route into them via their computers/iPads.

      • Did you write this article????? 10 HOURS TO GET TO NY? Did you not take math class? It only takes me 3 HOURS TO get to NY and in traffic 4. And who in their right mind would go through Delaware when they can skip Delaware all together by taking 472 through Pennsylvania???? That’s 12 dollars in savings and how did you come up with $208.10?? for car?? That doesn’t even make sense with your own wrong math? 66+62+40=$168, please tell me how that adds up to 208. 25mpg on a car driving highway? MY AUDI that has a problem with the flexible pipe that already gives me low gas mileage and takes premium and because of the flexible pipe and exhaust give me less gas mileage GIVES ME MORE THAN 25mpg on HIGHWAY. Most cars nowadays at least give 29mpg on highway STOCK. Still ON MY AUDI i dont spend 66 on gas. THerefore THis WHole article is irrelevant. THESE are facts not opinions. Facts are irrefutable.

        • @Lookingstupidfornotunderstanding article.

          First off, thanks David for putting the time into this and using a reasonable avg mpg rating since may cars get less than 25mpg especially in high traffic times.

          I’ll address guitardo’s stupidity;
          “10 HOURS TO GET TO NY?”
          10 hours is ROUND TRIP factoring in parking. So while it is an estimate at the outside of the maximum time its not ridiculous.

          “66+62+40=$168, please tell me how that adds up to 208.”
          He said he was going for the weekend numb-nuts, so two nights of parking at 40$/night =208(that’s 168+40 so it was “your own wrong math”

          “Facts are irrefutable.”
          Here’s an irrefutable fact, you’re a jerk face.

          Thanks again David for sharing, its was very helpful.

          • The tolls shown are quite accurate to EZ Pass prices. I just made the trip last weekend. The only difference is the Lincoln Tunnel. It cost me $10.50. I’m not sure if the GW Bridge is different. My total cost driving was $102.60. $59.60 in tolls, $20 for parking, and $23 for gas (2016 Prius with 52mpg)

        • Why you don’t “waste” your time writing instead criticizing, and at the end, you add not nothing worthy to read. Shame.
          Thanks for to the writer!

  2. GREAT ANALYSIS ……. Freedom has it’s price & the price is HIGH !!!!!! For driving a car …….
    There are till FREE ways to get into NYC BUT, at a cost( time & gas) !!!!! An and Parkin on the street has not been a problem for me( knock on wood ) yet !!!!!!
    I drive a 4 cylinder that get about 500 to 550 miles per tank (and you will need all 550 miles)at about $55 a fill up ……
    So my trips to NYC from DC look very different on the cost analysis ….. My way is about $70 vs the $200+ your analysis came up with …….
    Even at $70 the bus STILL is the BEST value !!!!! My last 10 trips to NYC have been 3 by BUS & 7 by CAR ????? I will pay more for my CAR, it gives me more FREEDOM !!!!!

      • Hi Vic,

        The “free” way to get from DC to NYC:
        1) You have to take 695 loop around Baltimore, that bypasses the tolls of both tunnels.
        2) You have to get off BEFORE the JFK Bridge and drive through Port Deposit, BUT it’s a fun little drive because you get to drive over a dam.
        3) you must drive through Delaware and into Pennsylvania, then take any bridge into New Jersey (Driving into NJ is always free)
        4) You have to then drive on any road in NJ EXCEPT the NJ TPK or A/C Expressway or Garden State Parkway. So, what I would do: cross over the Commodore Barry or Ben Franklin and then get on Interstate 295 North, Enter Trenton then transfer to US-1. But there is a trick. Once you get to the NJ/NY Border, you have to KEEP GOING NORTH.
        5) The only free crossing over the Hudson River occur quite far north, up near Poughkeepsie.
        6) then drive south on the free highways to the Bronx, then you HAVE to take local streets or the Major Deegan Expressway and cross any local bridge into Manhattan.

        Now, to go back to DC for free? Reverse everything BUT for the NJ/PA border. For that, you have to find a bridge that does not charge you, and I do not know where such a crossing exists.

  3. Wonderful!! The tolls are what get you!! The only time a car is better is if you’re traveling with more than just yourself, such as a minivan with four kids!

  4. Super helpful! Thank you. Please add more stuff like this with regards to DC to NY or keep updated as they increase the rates. Love it!!

  5. I don’t understand your time computations. It took you 600 minutes by car? 10 hours? 440 minutes by train? 7.33 hours? Am I missing something?

  6. Just made the trip and did a similar calculation before going.
    However there were 3 of us going up, so it skewed the results toward driving. (Costs stayed about the same for the car, but tripled for the other means.)
    Also, there were no trains leaving mid day from NY to DC. Early morning or late evening were the only ones I could find.
    Baltimore tunnel tolls are $4 each way not the $3 indicated.
    I went up 95 and back 78 to 83 to 95 at baltimore. The way back, while further distance, was a little shorter time wise and MUCH less congestion. All in all a much nicer drive (and almost no tolls).

  7. Just made the round trip drive with 3 others. The tolls are ridiculous, but $208 divided by 4 is only $52 per person. Not bad considering and we sang Motown tunes up and back! Thanks for doing the calculations.

  8. The cab/ taxi fares listed here for New York area airports are cheaper than listed on this site. I have lived in New York for many years and have used many cabs to and from the airport very often, as well as trains and buses, which are convenient and reliable, if you have some time to spare.

    JFK airport. There is a FLAT fare for taxis, so the estimate of $75 is off. For trips between (to and from) Manhattan and JFK International Airport, the flat fare is $52.00 plus any tolls. Both the Brooklyn Bridge and Williamsburg bridge are free both ways, which makes Lower Manhattan incredibly accessible with no tolls both to and from JFK.

    LaGuardia Airport, depends on where exactly you are traveling, but to and from both Upper and Lower Manhattan, I have never paid more than $40, excluding tip. The average is $25-$35, even with traffic. The estimate $75 one way is off. See the cab fare calculator link below for specifics.

    Newark Airport, that’s an appropriate estimate at $85 coming from* the airport, because there are very few NYC cabs, and you will probably have to take a gypsy cab, which cost me $80 going to Lower Manhattan. Hailing an NYC cab in the city going to Newark will be cheaper, costing around $45.

    The top Google hit for “nyc cab fare calculator” supports these estimates. See http://www.taxifarefinder.com/main.php?city=NY

  9. Awesome article!! Having the breakdown of extra side costs is a major help, even if they’re no longer accurate due to being over a year old. Prices are always going up. But at least with this article, you have a clear idea of which is your cheapest route. Thanks!

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  11. You have proven to me that when I drive with my family, I’m saving money. It’s the cheapest way when you have 2+ people heading that way.

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  13. Great article, thanks for sharing and don’t be bothered by the naysayers. A few dollars off here or there is not relevant; your effort is!

  14. Manhattan is not the only destination in NY. What about Queens, Brooklyn, Bronx and ofcourse Staten Is. Taking the bus or train is very very inconvenient and adds hours to the trip. Driving is cheaper and faster.

  15. Thanks for the run down. I’m trying to figure out the best way to get to NYC for NYE festivities. I know parking varies greatly. So far, to bus my family it will be $360. Our car is going to sit while in the city so we don’t need it. Decisions, decisions.

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  19. The hassle of driving and parking in NYC is just too great for me. The train wins every time. The bus is cheaper but I live right by the train station (in Baltimore) so I usually just take the train! Thanks for the toll info though…good to know.

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  21. MY EZpass cost from NJ – DC DC- NY

    E-ZPass Toll Delaware Memorial Bridge Holland Tunnel 001 ($13.30)

    E-ZPass n/a Lane Memorial Br 002 ($4.00)

    E-ZPass Toll n/a Newark Plaza 2 ($4.00)

    E-ZPass Toll n/a Delaware Memorial Br 001 ($4.00)

    E-ZPass Toll n/a Fort McHenry Tunnel 002 ($4.00)

    E-ZPass Toll Newark/Jersey City Delaware Memorial Bridge ($11.25)

    • I had to pay cash this weekend, so this is the cash toll from NY2DC:
      Baltimore Tunnel $4
      Delaware Bridge $4
      Delaware State $4
      NJ Turnpike $13.85
      Total $25.85

  22. Awesome!!
    I was moved by your excellent writings about analysis of cost analysis and comparison.
    I plan to go NYC to see opera performance on 15 August 2019.
    I think your writing is very useful and informative to me.
    I wonder if there is toll free route for driving a car from DC to NYC.
    If I drive a car to NYC through toll free route, I can save toll fee.
    Thank you.

  23. I am a nurse and recently traveled from DC to NY to help. They DO NOT accept VA EZ pass. The $4 in Delaware cost me $50 as it included emergency response fee, service fee, violent crime fee.. The $42 Lincoln Tunnel cost me $92 when added in the $50 service fee. This was WRONG on so many levels. NO signage explaining they only accept EZ pass from that state. NOT FAIR!!!!!
    .

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