I am in Washington DC right now and want to go to Manhattan, NYC in the next few days. I searched for flights and the prices seemed very high to me for such a short time distance (compare to the West coast where we can go from SF to LAS or LA with around 25-50 bucks).

I decided to rent a car, as I am with my friend and we can share the price this way, but I don't know if there is an option to pick up the car at DC and drop it off in NYC/Manhattan? Which companies have such an option and are more affordable?

Also, I would like to know if there is another option like train, bus, shared cars, etc.

  • 6
    Did you look at bus/coach and train?
    – Willeke
    Sep 5, 2022 at 16:11
  • 1
    Car rentals tend to be cheaper from the city than the airport. Dropping of a car at an NYC airport is a pain in the neck since you still need to get from the airport to Manhattan, which is quite a chore for both EWR and JFK. Why don't you just drop it off in Manhattan directly ?
    – Hilmar
    Sep 5, 2022 at 18:34
  • 5
    try Megabus, I've taken them before. Prices are reasonable, buses are pretty nice. $25-$35 no stops.
    – Esther
    Sep 5, 2022 at 18:42
  • 5
    Flixbus on Wednesday is $30
    – Hilmar
    Sep 5, 2022 at 18:44
  • 6
    One way car rental, gas, tolls, and parking when you get to NYC will be way more than 4 bus tickets. Mega, Bolt, Fix, etc..
    – Damila
    Sep 6, 2022 at 1:22

6 Answers 6


In my experience, the best price is typically to be had by looking at bus services other than Greyhound. This experience is from 10 to 15 years ago, so it looks like both Greyhound and the non-Acela trains are more competitive, but I still found some lower prices (as low as $25 for Thursday of this week) by searching washington new york bus. These services may also take you from or to a more convenient location (or less, depending on your needs), so shop around on that criterion as well.

In other experience (even less recent), one-way auto rental surcharges are typically a few hundred dollars, so this is unlikely to be helpful for the budget-minded one-way traveler. I've heard that exceptions may be possible if the car rental company needs to redistribute their fleet, but I've never found such an exception when I've looked for one.

  • 6
    I've done this exact trip by Megabus, and the price was around $25-30 as well (still is now, I just checked).
    – Esther
    Sep 5, 2022 at 18:41
  • 12
    I’ve done this exact trip many times, and bus is the cheapest answer (NYC native who lived in DC for several years and had to return for family/friend events). Beware that it’s not exactly a fun trip: the buses are cramped, it takes vastly longer than it ought to, I-95 isn’t exactly scenic, the WiFi might have gotten better in the last 5 years but I tend to doubt it, and bus maintenance issues, while not frequent, seemed more frequent than they ought to have been.
    – KRyan
    Sep 6, 2022 at 2:36

You can for sure take a car at Dulles and leave it at LGA/JFK, but keep in mind that one-way rentals will always be more expensive than a return one and you need to factor going to/from airports which cam climb to $15+/person not counting the evident time loss.

And between DC and NYC you can take Amtrak which would be what I'd recommend, and likely the cheapest.

Looking a month from now, you can get from DC to NY Penn. station by taking the Northeast Regional that takes 3h20min. for $31/person (there are also faster (30min faster) Acela trains, but is totally irrelevant here due to the $70 asking price)

There are also Greyhound buses but they are nearly $10 more expensive and take between 4h30 and 9h.

  • 1
    “In the next few days” as OP asked about, Amtrak prices are much higher (difficult to find anything under $130 per person) on weekdays, but weekends still have a few cheap trains.
    – jcaron
    Sep 5, 2022 at 17:03
  • 17
    How long does it take to get from Dulles to NYC by cat? I hear they are difficult to direct to the most efficient route.
    – phoog
    Sep 5, 2022 at 18:04
  • 27
    @phoog It all comes down to to moving their food bowl to the desired location.
    – Peter M
    Sep 5, 2022 at 19:07
  • 3
    One strange thing about one-way rentals is that the price is not necessarily the same in both directions. Rental companies price rentals to balance their fleets to try to avoid having to dead head cars to refill a depleted lot at a location. This is even more true with rental moving trucks. Also you absolutely do not have to pick up or drop off only at airports. In fact I never used an airport for car rental on the NYC side (I did use Dulles often on the DC side). The only catch is you have to pick up and drop off when the locations you want are open or likely end up paying for a whole day. Sep 7, 2022 at 8:11
  • 1
    I took the train route as a tourist to the US back in 2018, it was definitely the best option for us. Just in terms of time it was faster to get a taxi from our hotel to Union Station in DC and then another to our NYC hotel from Penn than it would have been to taxi out to the airport in DC and then into Manhattan on the other end (plus all the airport hassles). The trip went by quickly - it was relaxed, we had space to sit comfortably, and there was food available for purchase. We also had nice views along the way, including of Philadelphia which we otherwise wouldn't have seen.
    – Kayndarr
    Sep 8, 2022 at 4:58

If you want the cheapest, look into the Chinatown Bus lines. I have had friends take them from DC to New York. The buses depart at early morning hours, but the trip is fast and cheap.

  • Indeed. Some even have booking websites in English now!
    – Michaelyus
    Sep 8, 2022 at 16:13

A great resource for this type of search is is Rome to Rio. For this specific search check https://www.rome2rio.com/map/Washington/New-York#r/Bus/s/0.

The site lists more than a dozen daily bus connections costing between $25 and $60. The trip typically takes between 4 and 5 hours.


Amtrak is a civilized alterative to the bus. They claim $31 with discount for advance purchase. It's sort of a commuter route, so there should be options. https://www.amtrak.com/experience/why-amtrak/trains-to-nyc.html

  • 1
    100% agree, but "in the next few days" probably precludes getting any "advance purchase" discount.
    – T.E.D.
    Sep 8, 2022 at 13:56
  • 1
    During the week prices in the near future are usually very high. On weekends it’s possible to find more reasonable fares even at relatively short term.
    – jcaron
    Sep 8, 2022 at 15:02
  1. Multiple bus lines serve this route (Vamoose, Greyhound, Megabus, others). Fares of $25–30 are common. I would pick based on convenience of departure and arrival locations, which vary.
  2. Amtrak non-Acela trains. This will cost more, but is far more comfortable.
  3. I once, in 2018 before covid, was able to rent a car in the opposite direction (JFK to IAD) without drop-off surcharge. Rate was less than $40/day for a large car. I am sure that rate is gone forever. Gas and tolls were more than the car. Car rates are highly volatile and subject to bewildering discount coupons and rates which you may not qualify for, or may not be able to find.

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