From Portland Afoot
BoltBus is a low-cost express bus service operated by Greyhound between select cities, including (as of October 2012) Portland, Seattle, Bellingham and Vancouver BC . Designed to compete with the Megabus and Chinatown bus lines, BoltBus had previously operated only in the Northeast, with hubs in New York City, Boston, Philadelphia, and Baltimore.
In Portland, BoltBus operates from the curbside of 647 SW Salmon Street, two blocks south of Pioneer Courthouse Square. In Seattle, buses operate from 5th Avenue South and King Street, adjacent to the King Street Amtrak station and International District transit station. In Bellingham, buses operate from 4194 Cordata Parkway, next to the city's driver's licensing office.
As of October 2012, advance midday, midweek fares from Portland to Seattle were typically around $15 including a $1 transaction fee. As seats sell out, they gradually become more expensive, topping out in the $30s for cash purchases during boarding. (Fares to Vancouver and Bellingham are proportionately higher.)
According to the BoltBus FAQ, "every schedule will sell at least one $1.00 ticket. The $1.00 ticket will be sold at random and generally within the first handful of seats sold. The earlier you book your ticket, the greater your odds are of grabbing a seat for a buck."
Advance tickets can be bought online until three hours before departure. Phone reservations (via 1-877-BOLTBUS) are also available for a $3 fee. A limited number of seats are available on the day of travel as "walk-up" fares. According to the company, they are typically 30% higher than advance fares and payable in cash only.
Passengers of all ages must pay full fare.
For frequent riders, every ninth BoltBus trip is free.
As of March 2013, BoltBuses departed Portland for Seattle at 6:30 a.m. 8:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 2 p.m., 3:30 p.m., and 6:30 p.m. Travel time to Seattle was estimated at 3 hours 15 minutes to 3 hours 30 minutes.
Southbound trips from Seattle were at 8 a.m., 10:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 2 p.m. 6:30 p.m. and 8 p.m.
Two of the Portland-to-Seattle runs, at 6:30 a.m. and 2 p.m., travelled on to Bellingham and Vancouver BC after the Seattle stop.
For the latest schedule and prices, check the BoltBus website, select "Pacific Northwest" and choose your destination cities.
BoltBus describes its key amenities as "comfortable leather seats, extra legroom, free Wi-Fi and power outlets," presumably compared to a traditional Greyhound bus. The most notable missing amenity in each seat is a fold-down table on which you could put a book, computer or food. (Eating is allowed on board.)
Wireless connectivity is not 100% reliable, but is usually superior to the connection on an Amtrak train. The best connections are available near the front of the bus, where the router is stored.
According to the BoltBus FAQ, "If, for whatever reason any of the amenities mentioned above are unavailable we are unable to supply a credit/refund. For operational reasons BoltBus may need to substitute a replacement vehicle which may not have all of the regular amenities. We apologize for any inconvenience that this may cause you."
Bikes can be brought on board in lieu of another luggage item "as long as space is available in the baggage area. The oversize item will count as your one bag allowed under the coach."
The buses are wheelchair-accessible by lift.
A small toilet room is on board.
Children under 16 cannot ride BoltBus unaccompanied by an adult.
Food and non-alcoholic beverages can be consumed on board.
The only animal allowed on board is a "properly documented service animal, trained for the purpose of accompanying a disabled person." These animals ride free.
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