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john and i got up at 6:00 to take the 7:30 world wide bus (WWB) out of alewife station. with the end of daylight saving time we got an extra hour of sleep but it's hard getting used to waking up so early in the morning. fortunately alewife is just 2 stations away from porter square and the trains run empty on a sunday morning. neither of us have taken the WWB before, so we didn't know where to wait for it until it arrived sometime after 7:00 at the end of the bus parking strip. there was already a small crowd waiting but more people arrived before our departure. despite the influx, there were still enough seats to go around for every passenger to get their own row.

the bus itself radiated newness. black leather seats with red trims, like something batman would design. a pair of electrical outlets lined every row. there was even wifi access. our driver - mario - was a young hispanic man wearing a tie. a bus manager holding a clipboard came onboard to welcome everyone and go over some of the bus features. with introduction out of the way, the bus left alewife station.

world wide bus1 is a new boston-new york bus line that opened up just a few weeks ago. what makes WWB unique is instead of leaving from boston, it actually leaves from cambridge, at alewife station. this is convenient for me since alewife is just 2 stops away on the red line, compared to the 7 stops it takes to get to south station (to take one of the chinatown buses). it also makes an additional stop in newton, at riverside station (the terminus of green line D), making this a viable alternative for folks living in the western suburbs looking for an easy way to get down to new york. as part of their grand opening promotion, a one way ticket costs just $10.2 the cheap fare is only for a limited time (for about another week), when the price goes up to $15 on weekdays and $20 on weekends. even with the slightly higher price (chinatown buses are $15), for some people WWB still makes more sense due to the time you save from not having to travel into boston.

i fell asleep on the bus, waking up intermittently to see where we were. we were driving an unfamiliar and seemingly circuitous route and i was afraid the bus driver - perhaps new on the job - might've been lost. i figured we wouldn't arrive until noontime at the earliest. there was another snag: the new york city marathon was happening today, and many roads would be closed in the city, further delaying our arrival.

sure enough, as soon as we approached manhattan, we could already see colorful balloon markers, cheering spectators, and the elite women runners (with just a few more miles left before the finish line). the bus entered the city from the northern end, up in harlem (with streets running in the 130th's). it's objective now was to make it down to 31st street and 8th avenue, to penn station. unfortunately we were on the wrong side of the marathon course, with the entire stretch of 5th avenue blocked off to incoming traffic and vehicles stuck in gridlock as everyone kept going in circles trying to find an impossible escape route.

good news was we seemed to have made it to new york in good time, around 4 hours (it was 11:30); bad news was who knew how long we'd be stuck in traffic. john said it'd probably be quicker if took the subway, a concern shared by a guy sitting next to us. after conferring with john about a possible strategy, this passenger went to talk to the driver, to see if he could let us off early. we didn't think he'd agree, but he said yes. the 3 of us hurriedly grabbed our things and got off the bus, much to the confusion of the other passengers still onboard. from there it was just 2 blocks to the 125th-lexington street MTA station, where we managed to grab a 5 train into brooklyn.

the original plan was to switch to an F train at bleecker street, but the 5 ran express into brooklyn directly, so we ended up getting off at borough hall and walking to carroll gardens. along the way we stopped by rolling orange, a dutch bicycle store runned by former au pairs. feeling hungry, john phoned in a pizza order that we picked up before arriving at his house. deanna was home but will was away at a puppet show. after eating 3 slices of pizza, it was time to leave. by then it was close to 12:30, with just 4 hours of daylight before it got dark. john took his own specialized globe city bike while i rode deanna's peugeot manhattan.

this whole trip came about because john wanted to show me a new way of touring new york via bicycle. i was hoping to give it a try back in january when i was down there (even brought along my helmet), but the temperature was just too cold for riding. the temperature today was still in the 50's, but biking warms you up somewhat and it felt warmer in the sun. the weather was definitely a non-factor.

new york city was the perfect place to use the bicycle camera mount. i seemed to have gotten the hang of it after field trials in boston yesterday. i borrowed my mother's canon SD800 elph camera, which only films at 640x480 resolution. an 8gb SDHC can store about an hour's worth of video, draining a single fully-charged battery in the process.

the route we took brought us across the brooklyn bridge into manhattan, through parts of chinatown and little italy up 8th avenue to the finish line of the marathon, then down the hudson river greenway, to the high line, before taking a train back to brooklyn.

here are some notable frame grabs:

brooklyn bridge:

new york city marathon:

high line:

more high line:

even more high line:

back at john's place, i saw will briefly before taking off, trying to catch the 6:00 PM world wide bus returning to cambridge. one problem: i wasn't exactly sure where the bus stop was since we got off early in harlem. i knew it was around penn station. while biking up 8th avenue, i did see a world wide bus parked on the side of the street, and figured that'd be a good place to look. i took the F train to herald square, then walked west to 8th avenue and down to 31st street. i didn't see a thing, and there was just 10 more minutes before 6:00. i ended up calling my father to figure out where the stop was, since my parents took the WWB last weekend. i was at the right location, but still couldn't see any buses. that's when i noticed a long line of people waiting on the sidewalk across the street. i hung up the phone and crossed the street, right as a world wide bus suddenly appeared. everybody in line had purchased their tickets ahead of time online; i had to wait until everyone was on board before i managed to buy a ticket with cash. there must've been 30+ people ahead of me, but there was still plenty of seats left. i managed to take the frontmost row behind the driver, but soon a group of chinese tourists took the seats across from me as well as the one right next to me.


1 i'm not crazy about the name. for a bus company that only goes to cambridge-newton-new york, calling itself "world wide bus" seems like a gross overstatement. it's probably a play on "world wide web" but if i had my own bus line i'd go with a different name.

2 $15 is the basic ticket price for a bus trip to new york, but it used to be much cheaper. back when chinatown buses actually left from the street corners of their namesake, it was only $10. since they moved to south station (becoming more legitimized in the process), the price went up (that was also during the oil price hike). in the early days, when travel pack was still running, you could score a ticket for as low as $5-8, depending on which day you were traveling (they had a fleet of smaller shuttle-sized buses that were probably cheaper to run).