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Limo tips

Email|Print| Text size + By Joe Yonan
Globe Staff / November 3, 2003

In eight areas important to the traveler between Boston and New York, which service -- the LimoLiner bus or Amtrak's Acela Express -- pulls ahead?

Price: LimoLiner. Acela's $85 to $99 fare drops to $76.50 with a AAA discount, but only during off-peak hours, and that still doesn't beat the $69 one-way fare for LimoLiner. Caveat: This is an introductory fare that LimoLiner says it will keep only if it gets enough business.

Comfort: LimoLiner. With pillows, blankets, and leg extensions in addition to footrests, it beats Acela's business class hands down -- or legs up. And the bus is a much quieter atmosphere, though that would surely change if it were closer to capacity.

Speed: Probably Acela for now, at least during peak traffic times. But LimoLiner marketing consultant Lori Cohen promises that the service's drivers and attendants will be working to use satellite and Internet technology to better anticipate traffic and avoid it.

Schedule/locations: Acela. Without weekend trips, LimoLiner's three-times-a-day schedule (reduced already from four times a day) is too limited for the leisure traveler. And even though LimoLiner gets you slightly closer to the action in midtown than Acela does by going into Penn Station, Amtrak's three departure spots in the Boston area (South Station, Back Bay, and Route 128) beat LimoLiner's two (Back Bay Hilton, Framingham).

Food/drink: Acela. True, LimoLiner's offering is free, plus fresher and better-tasting than anything you can get on the train, but Amtrak offers many more options, including one that many travelers would find crucial: alcohol.

Service/friendliness: LimoLiner. What better service than having an attendant to bring you (free) food and drinks? Acela does this in first class, but that's another $50 each way.

Other amenities: LimoLiner. Both offer electrical outlets to power laptops and other devices, and both have music channels, but nothing beats movies for killing time, and LimoLiner played two decent, recent ones. (Headphones are provided, unlike on Amtrak.) LimoLiner also provides wireless Internet or service through ethernet cables, which are available in case you forget yours.

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