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Philadelphia to NYC commute affordability- help!


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#1 Guest_Andrew_*

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Posted 31 May 2013 - 09:37 AM

All;

 

Contemplating a daily Philadelphia to New York Penn Station... I know, crazy.

 

Are their any options I am missing before I determine it is way too costly? I keep getting a monthly ticket cost of 1314.00.

 

With that being said, I get a $250.00 commuting card towards my commuting cost, AND will get 10% discount from AAA. Thus, my cheapest monthly commute would be around 930.00

 

Are there any other options/ways that I can make this alittle but easier to stomach?

 

Much appreciated



#2 MikefromCrete

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Posted 31 May 2013 - 09:56 AM

SEPTA to Trenton, change to NJ Transit. It would be cheaper, but longer, not as comfortable and would probably get old real fast. 



#3 afigg

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Posted 31 May 2013 - 10:14 AM

Look at the SEPTA and NJ Transit schedules for the NEC. They both show the connecting trains of the other agency at Trenton. What you would want is to take a SEPTA train to Trenton and then connect to a NJT express train that runs non-stop from Princeton Junction to Newark to make the trip time bearable. A fair number of people do this, although they may commute from a station north of 30th St to Newark and then take PATH to southern Manhattan. There are NYP-PHL daily commuters who take Amtrak, but they are either compensated for it or make enough money to afford it.



#4 benale

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Posted 31 May 2013 - 10:38 AM

If you don;t mind buses, Megabus and Bolt Bus run non stop service from  Philly to NY. I've taken Megabus many times. Fares start at a dollar and rarely go over $15, unless you book less than a week in advance. They drop off at 28th and 7th and the pick up is at 34th and 11th. Both buses have pick up in Philly about two blocks from 30th St station.



#5 Just-Thinking-51

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Posted 31 May 2013 - 10:40 AM

2 hours travel time. 98 miles city center to city center. All routes have toll roads, bridges.

If your going to commuted 930 USD sounds cheap. Ok it hit you once a month, but the tolls, and fuel is a everyday charge.

Toll and Fuel will run 500 USD a month or more (a lot more)

Don't forget the cost of insurance and own the car, if you take the train you may be a one car family not two.

Sit on a train watch the world go by while have the chance to catch up on your E-mail, finish read a report. Priceless.

#6 Bob Dylan

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Posted 31 May 2013 - 10:43 AM

Would it be feasible to Move to NYC?? The Difference in Housing and other Costs in the Apple  would probably be Worth the Hassle of Commuting RT Daily!  The PHL-NYC Commute, about an Hour Each Way on Acela, or an Hour and a Half on a Regional,  would get  Old Fast! (no Pun intended!) Of course using SEPTA and NJT would take Considerably more Time even if it is Cheaper! Lots of People Commute like this but IMO it's not Worth it! Perhaps your Employer would Compensate you for your Living Expenses instead of the Commute???


Edited by jimhudson, 31 May 2013 - 10:47 AM.

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#7 lennyj17

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Posted 31 May 2013 - 11:16 AM

All;

 

Contemplating a daily Philadelphia to New York Penn Station... I know, crazy.

 

Are their any options I am missing before I determine it is way too costly? I keep getting a monthly ticket cost of 1314.00.

 

With that being said, I get a $250.00 commuting card towards my commuting cost, AND will get 10% discount from AAA. Thus, my cheapest monthly commute would be around 930.00

 

Are there any other options/ways that I can make this alittle but easier to stomach?

 

Much appreciated

 

I do the commute 3-4 days a week...A Few Tips...

 

- You must use Amtrak, the NJT/SEPTA route will drive you INSANE before the 1st week is over....Amtrak is really the only way to do this commute and keep your sanity. 

- Unless you're going to be commuting 5 days a week for certain, DO NOT get the Monthly Pass, Its a huge waste of $$$ IMO if you commute any less than 20 days a month.  

- Buy your tickets while the 14-day Advance Ticket pricing window is open (14 days or more in advance). I buy mine for a month 1 to 1 1/2 months ahead of time. My monthly cost comes out to be around 800-850$.

- Hoard your AGR points that you build up, this will save you tons of $$$ should you ever need to change your plans at the last minute an take a train other than what you scheduled...You can use Points instead of paying those nosebleed walk-up fares.  

- If you have decent Credit, apply for the AGR Mastercard from Chase, and book all your trips to the Card, to earn 2 to 1 AGR Points, plus you'd still get points for the Travel. Plus its easier paying the one bill a month. I earn approx 2.5-3K points a month from the Card. 

- Once you become Select Plus status (10K TQP) you will gain access to the Acela Lounges in NYP and PHL, which are nice comfortable lounges while you wait for your train.... At NYP Acela Lounge also affords you pre-boarding to beat the Herds of Day Trippers to the train. Trust me you will come to cherish this benefit. 

 

Commuting PHL - NYP is becoming more and more common place, as a matter of fact in the morning trains 170, 640, and 180 are filled solid with nothing but commuters doing the same as you, and there's a commuting community among all of us, a lot of us know each other on 1st name basis. Hopefully you'll be living pretty close to 30th Street station to minimize your commute to and from Amtrak as much as possible...Once I arrive back to 30th in the evening, I can either walk to or take a 5$ cab to my front door, helps make the commute doable. 

 

Philly people are shocked when you tell them you work in NYC and make the commute several days a week, but NYC people are not moved in the slightest more are shocked when I tell them I get from Philly to the City quicker than people who commute in from other parts of the NYC Metro and its true. The Philly-NYC commute does have its reward, Philly Cost of Living while getting NYC Pay is Hella-Nice, even with the expense of Amtrak I still come out significantly ahead over actually living in the City.


Edited by lennyj17, 31 May 2013 - 12:00 PM.


#8 lennyj17

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Posted 31 May 2013 - 11:36 AM

Look at the SEPTA and NJ Transit schedules for the NEC. They both show the connecting trains of the other agency at Trenton. What you would want is to take a SEPTA train to Trenton and then connect to a NJT express train that runs non-stop from Princeton Junction to Newark to make the trip time bearable. A fair number of people do this, although they may commute from a station north of 30th St to Newark and then take PATH to southern Manhattan. There are NYP-PHL daily commuters who take Amtrak, but they are either compensated for it or make enough money to afford it.

 

SEPTA/NJT options are the worse IMO because: 

 

1 - If you don't time the Trenton transfer correct, that In-between wait can be a PIA....mostly in the PM Rush when you want to get home..

2 - Slow Slow Slow Slow and Tedious...The NJT leg isn't bad if you get one of the Express Train that only make 3 stops between Trenton and Newark...SEPTA is eye-gouging slow, trains move slow, and stops what seems like every 2 minutes....a non-stop Amtrak train from TRE to PHL takes 20-25 mins, SEPTA is a solid Hour between the same 2 points.

3 - NJT and SEPTA have no mercy for each other, meaning if one is late the other WILL NOT wait. I found this to be more of a PIA in the PM when NJT train are bottle-necked between Hamilton and TRE to allow for Rush-Hour Amtrak train to pull in and out first, and again SEPTA will not wait.

4 - the Commuter Trains have NOTHING on Amtrak for Comfort and NJT if you're not lucky enough to get one of the Double Decker trains, get ready to feel like a Sardine for 90 mins. 

5 - Penn Station in the PM...Lets just say, I Hope you're Alert and Quick on your Feet, you have never experience a rush like you will at Penn during the PM rush on NJT. When the track is announced for train get ready to be instantly transported from Penn Station to Pamplona..These people will knock you down the steps if you move too slow.  

 

If I couldn't do Amtrak - 1) I don't know if the PHL-NYP commute would be worth it, 2) I would consider one of the Bus options (Greyhound, Bolt, Mega) over NJT/SEPTA at least its a one seat-ride   



#9 Acela150

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Posted 31 May 2013 - 11:36 AM

Lenny, Even if the OP commutes say 15 days out of the month it's still cheaper to buy a Monthly Pass. I'd say the point on where to draw the line on a Pass or Round Trip tickets is around 14 or 15 days of commuting. I'm doing the math based off of the numbers the OP gave. In fact IINM the OP would earn more points for the Monthly Pass then several round trips. Select Plus would indeed get the OP into the lounges. But normally the NYP lounge doesn't announce Keystone Trains and Regional Trains. Or so that's what I've heard. PHL they announce every train they have someone checked in for. 


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#10 lennyj17

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Posted 31 May 2013 - 11:49 AM

Lenny, Even if the OP commutes say 15 days out of the month it's still cheaper to buy a Monthly Pass. I'd say the point on where to draw the line on a Pass or Round Trip tickets is around 14 or 15 days of commuting. I'm doing the math based off of the numbers the OP gave. In fact IINM the OP would earn more points for the Monthly Pass then several round trips. Select Plus would indeed get the OP into the lounges. But normally the NYP lounge doesn't announce Keystone Trains and Regional Trains. Or so that's what I've heard. PHL they announce every train they have someone checked in for. 

 

PHL-NYP during the 14-day window is 36$ OW = 72 RT = $1080 for 15day...Monthly Pass is ~1400$.... Monthly Pass is only worth it, if you employer is paying the majority or all of it...or again You Commute all 20 Business days of the Calendar....IMO if you miss even one day Amtrak comes out ahead on the Monthly Passes....Where as 14-day advanced tickets can be reordered if you miss days of the month for whatever reason.

 

And yes the NYP Acela Lounge announces all Amtrak Trains approx 5-10mins before their Announced in main waiting area and on the Big Board


Edited by lennyj17, 31 May 2013 - 11:56 AM.


#11 Acela150

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Posted 31 May 2013 - 11:57 AM

Lenny, Even if the OP commutes say 15 days out of the month it's still cheaper to buy a Monthly Pass. I'd say the point on where to draw the line on a Pass or Round Trip tickets is around 14 or 15 days of commuting. I'm doing the math based off of the numbers the OP gave. In fact IINM the OP would earn more points for the Monthly Pass then several round trips. Select Plus would indeed get the OP into the lounges. But normally the NYP lounge doesn't announce Keystone Trains and Regional Trains. Or so that's what I've heard. PHL they announce every train they have someone checked in for. 

 

PHL-NYP during the 14-day window is 36$ OW = 72 RT = $1080 for 15day...Monthly Pass is 1400$ a month.... Monthly Pass is only worth it, if you employer is paying the majority or all of it...or again You Commute all 20 Business days of the Calendar....IMO if you miss even one day Amtrak comes out ahead on the Monthly Passes....Where as 14-day advanced tickets can be reordered if you miss days of the month for whatever reason.

 

If you read my post fully you will have noticed that my math was used with the numbers the OP gave. The number the OP gave was around $930. The OP gets reimbursed for travel $250 and will get 10% off for AAA. The 14 day fares are NOT eligible for any discount as they are 25% off fares. If you put a AAA or NARP discount in the fare will rise.  


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#12 lennyj17

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Posted 31 May 2013 - 12:07 PM

Lenny, Even if the OP commutes say 15 days out of the month it's still cheaper to buy a Monthly Pass. I'd say the point on where to draw the line on a Pass or Round Trip tickets is around 14 or 15 days of commuting. I'm doing the math based off of the numbers the OP gave. In fact IINM the OP would earn more points for the Monthly Pass then several round trips. Select Plus would indeed get the OP into the lounges. But normally the NYP lounge doesn't announce Keystone Trains and Regional Trains. Or so that's what I've heard. PHL they announce every train they have someone checked in for. 

 

PHL-NYP during the 14-day window is 36$ OW = 72 RT = $1080 for 15day...Monthly Pass is 1400$ a month.... Monthly Pass is only worth it, if you employer is paying the majority or all of it...or again You Commute all 20 Business days of the Calendar....IMO if you miss even one day Amtrak comes out ahead on the Monthly Passes....Where as 14-day advanced tickets can be reordered if you miss days of the month for whatever reason.

 

If you read my post fully you will have noticed that my math was used with the numbers the OP gave. The number the OP gave was around $930. The OP gets reimbursed for travel $250 and will get 10% off for AAA. The 14 day fares are NOT eligible for any discount as they are 25% off fares. If you put a AAA or NARP discount in the fare will rise.  

 

I read you post just fine, I don't think you read or clearly understood mine.....14-day fares are cheaper than anything one of the Discounts will provide ...and the OP can put that same 250$ towards the 14-day fares as well...I see no reason to buy the Monthly Pass over doing the 14-day fares... Monthly Passes are void from Discounts as well...



#13 BCL

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Posted 31 May 2013 - 12:20 PM

I mentioned here that I took the Keystone from NYP to the Philly burbs, then took SEPTA and NJT back.  The passengers in front of me on NJT noted that one after another Amtrak train was passing us on the inside track and said "That's the rich people train."  I got a good laugh out of it.

 

I priced it same day, and it was $52 Exton-NYP same day (I hear it can be more).  SEPTA and NJT was $9.50 Paoli to Trenton and $15.50 Trenton to NYP.  So those routes are definitely cheaper, but the wait was insane unless timed perfectly.  We missed the earlier trains and it took over 3.5 hours.



#14 amamba

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Posted 31 May 2013 - 12:32 PM

Folks the monthly passes and the 10 ride are NOT eligible for the AAA or NARP discounts.

#15 Anderson

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Posted 31 May 2013 - 12:35 PM

Looking at the numbers, I'd go with the monthly pass as well, at least in most months.  It might make sense if you're going on a long vacation at Christmas or in the summer to skip the pass and do "normal" or multi-ride tickets for that month, but assuming that you can get a monthly ticket for $930 or so (which would be a good deal), you should rack up status.

 

Assuming you did ten monthly tickets at $930/month, you'd have 18,600 TQPs; incidental travel in the other two months ought to be enough to put you over the 20,000 needed for SE+, with its 100% point bonus and extra upgrade cards.


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#16 lennyj17

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Posted 31 May 2013 - 12:51 PM

Looking at the numbers, I'd go with the monthly pass as well, at least in most months.  It might make sense if you're going on a long vacation at Christmas or in the summer to skip the pass and do "normal" or multi-ride tickets for that month, but assuming that you can get a monthly ticket for $930 or so (which would be a good deal), you should rack up status.

 

Assuming you did ten monthly tickets at $930/month, you'd have 18,600 TQPs; incidental travel in the other two months ought to be enough to put you over the 20,000 needed for SE+, with its 100% point bonus and extra upgrade cards.

 

He won't be able to apply discounts to the Monthly Passes or 10-trip tickets......14-day fares, plus the 250$ reimbursement are his best/cheapest shot.....1080 - 250$  = 830$.....



#17 PRR 60

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Posted 31 May 2013 - 01:05 PM

If the work schedule is not predictable, the need to tie down specific trains to use the 14-day AP fare could be an issue.  Monthly ticket holders can use almost any conventional train without the need for advance reservations.  You just go to the station and take the next train out (what a concept!).

 

On the other hand, if the starting and quitting times are reasonably firm, then the plan to use 14-day fares most of the time and points for the occasional last minute change is certainly workable.  It would take a bit of effort to manage all the reservations, occasional cancellations, and voucher re-bookings.  With some planning, that should not be a big issue. Monthly or 14AP, the one seat ride on Amtrak is much, much nicer than the SEPTA/NJT Trenton Shuffle.



#18 Acela150

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Posted 31 May 2013 - 01:10 PM

Even without 10% off I'd still take a monthly pass. That's around $1000. It's a toss up. The benefit of having a Monthly is not having to say "What's today's date?" "Which ticket do I need to print?"

 

That would drive me up a wall. If I had more then three Ressy's, put my AGR card into the QT, and see all of them. That would drive me crazy. The most reservations I have at once is two at the most. Very Rarely three. 

 

The downslide to a Monthly is that is one expensive piece of paper.. Lose it, your up the creek without a paddle.

 

Now if I was to choose between a Monthly and RT's. I'd have to do some serious math to see which would give my AGR account a   bigger boost. 


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#19 BCL

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Posted 31 May 2013 - 01:36 PM

Even without 10% off I'd still take a monthly pass. That's around $1000. It's a toss up. The benefit of having a Monthly is not having to say "What's today's date?" "Which ticket do I need to print?"

 

That would drive me up a wall. If I had more then three Ressy's, put my AGR card into the QT, and see all of them. That would drive me crazy. The most reservations I have at once is two at the most. Very Rarely three. 

 

The downslide to a Monthly is that is one expensive piece of paper.. Lose it, your up the creek without a paddle.

 

Now if I was to choose between a Monthly and RT's. I'd have to do some serious math to see which would give my AGR account a   bigger boost. 

 

There's no technical reason why a monthly couldn't be made an e-Ticket.  Several transit agencies in the San Francisco Bay Area can have monthly passes virtually loaded onto a multi-agency transit card.  If you lose one of those, it can be cancelled and all credits (that can be accounted for) reissued on a new card for a small fee.

 

Even if they're worried about people simply printing up another eTicket for a friend, the solution is to periodically check IDs like it says on the eTicket.


Edited by BCL, 31 May 2013 - 01:37 PM.


#20 Acela150

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Posted 31 May 2013 - 02:32 PM

Even without 10% off I'd still take a monthly pass. That's around $1000. It's a toss up. The benefit of having a Monthly is not having to say "What's today's date?" "Which ticket do I need to print?"

 

That would drive me up a wall. If I had more then three Ressy's, put my AGR card into the QT, and see all of them. That would drive me crazy. The most reservations I have at once is two at the most. Very Rarely three. 

 

The downslide to a Monthly is that is one expensive piece of paper.. Lose it, your up the creek without a paddle.

 

Now if I was to choose between a Monthly and RT's. I'd have to do some serious math to see which would give my AGR account a   bigger boost. 

 

There's no technical reason why a monthly couldn't be made an e-Ticket.  Several transit agencies in the San Francisco Bay Area can have monthly passes virtually loaded onto a multi-agency transit card.  If you lose one of those, it can be cancelled and all credits (that can be accounted for) reissued on a new card for a small fee.

 

Even if they're worried about people simply printing up another eTicket for a friend, the solution is to periodically check IDs like it says on the eTicket.

 

You just answered why Monthly's aren't eTickets. I could buy a Monthly pass, make 15 copies for PHL-WAS for instance, give them to 15 different people who I met randomly and Amtrak is out $15,000+ Until there is a fool proof system, Monthly's will be Traditional Paper Value tickets. 

 

Checking ID's only goes so far. I know for a fact the new iPhone Scanners prompt Conductors to ask for ID. Second day of eTicketing being Nationwide I was on 175 from RTE to PHL, the conductor who scanned me out of RTE was prompted to ask for an ID. Not a big deal, that's the only time I've been "carded" on Amtrak other then buying and picking up tickets at the station. I can almost guarantee that a good chunk of the conductors that are Prompted by the scanner to ask for an ID, or the AAA card, or NARP membership don't ask for it. Why should they slow down their process? All they have to do is hit "ok" I would guess. They wouldn't be prompted to take a photo of the ID. But what I could see is when the scanner prompts an ID check, etc, the Conductor swipe the ID, AAA card, etc. That way Amtrak has proof that the ID or AAA card, etc was checked.  


These posts are my views and opinions.

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