When I considered taking a Bolt bus from Baltimore to New York, I looked online and read such a mixed bag of reviews I didn’t know what to think. Bolt was either a revolution or just revolting, depending on who you read. So as I was getting ready to leave, I decided I’d write and post my own review.

One thing the reviewers mentioned was not being able to find the bus stop in Baltimore. I checked the address, directions and map carefully so I wouldn’t have that problem. I did anyway. But it wasn’t bad – I got out of the car near a bunch of people waiting with luggage on St. Paul Street and they were the wrong group of people with luggage, but they pointed me in the right direction. I headed for the group at the other end of the block and only when I got there did I see the little “Bolt Bus” sign on the sidewalk. There was a guy with an orange “Bolt Bus” vest so showed him my reservation and he told me to go stand at the back of the second line.

When I bought my ticket last week, I was placed in boarding group “C.” So how did those people in the first line get into groups “A” and B”? Was there a First Class in buses? Were they Frequent Busers?

The guy in the vest turned out to be the driver even though at first sight he had no bus. One drove up after about fifteen minutes later and I have no idea how because it either drove itself or the driver evaporated somewhere on St. Paul Street. In any case, the driver told the “A & B” group to store their luggage underneath and then “line up against the fence.” I’m not sure why that sounded so ominous. We line up at airports all the time, right? I guess it was the fence part. Anyway, they made it on the bus with no problem and soon it was our turn.

The bus was completely full by the time we got on – either there are people who live on this thing or the bus had started in DC first. Inside it’s clean and very much like riding in an airplane with extra headroom. We were even told to turn off our cellphones – sort of. To keep from disturbing other passengers, the driver told us to put phones on vibrate and avoid talking on them if possible. A few minutes later, he came on the loudspeaker and told the woman in the 4th row to put down her phone. I think he was joking, but I have to admit when my sister called me a half hour later I was very anxious to get off as quickly as possible. Of course, the driver placed no restrictions on talking in person and I have to say that listening to the guy across from me was as annoying as a one-sided cellphone conversation. He seems to feel that reading a magazine is a group activity.

Like an airplane, the bus has TV screens that don’t show anything you’d want to watch. These just showed blank screens, which I found preferable to the long-winded safety demonstrations you get on airplanes. We got no safety message other than the cellphone mandate. If we crash, I’ll have no idea where to find my airmask or flotation device.

Unlike an airplane, there is no armrest between the seats, and since the seats are airplane width, an armrest would have come in very handy for determining who’s space was whose. What the bus does have is a little extra legroom and an electric outlet and free wi-fi. Does the wi-fi work well enough to do much of anything? I decided I was going to upload this blog from the bus, so if you’re not reading it, then it didn’t work.

Of course, for this to happen, I have to post it before we arrive, so you’ll never know whether we made it in one piece or not.

Stay tuned for the next episode to find out! But I have to say that as of right now it looks good and I would recommend Bolt Bus. However, I will qualify this by observing that we are traveling the middle of the day on a weekday in winter. If the weather was crummy or we had a bus full of drunk people coming back from a big event, my experience would probably not be as pleasant.

And even under these good conditions, I haven’t had the nerve to check the state of the restroom. Maybe I’ll save that for the sequel.

Until next time…