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best way to get from Philly to Allentown

teriwttteriwtt Super Moderator Posts: 12,525 Super Moderator
edited October 2008 in Parent Cafe
D2 is at school in Allentown, and has a concert in December that I want to go to. She has her car on campus, so I don't need to rent one. Flights into Allentown are incredibly high right now, so I'm likely going to fly into Philly. I have two choices from there... one is to rent a car one-way from the airport to Allentown, just for the day. It will run about $110 total. My flight on SWA is $98 one-way, so that would put the entire cost just above $200 to get me from home to Allentown.

My other option is to fly into Philly, take the SEPTA(?) into Philly, and catch a bus from Philly to Allentown (there are several a day). I could save quite a bit of money by doing it this way, but I'm not familiar at all with SEPTA.

Does anyone know where the stop is in downtown Philly, in relation to where the buses arrive and depart from? If they're within a couple of blocks of each other, I'd do it; if not, I don't want to hassle with another long transfer, and I'd rather just rent the car.
Post edited by teriwtt on

Replies to: best way to get from Philly to Allentown

  • lderochilderochi Registered User Posts: 2,035 Senior Member
    It's very easy to get to 30th Street Station from the airport. There's a station right at the airport. At 30th Street Station, you can catch the Bieber Bus to Allentown -- it picks up right outside the 30th Street Station, but you have to wait outside on the corner -- the help desk inside the Station will tell you where to go. I always found that option easier than the Greyhound to Allentown, mainly because I don't think there is a direct rail connection from the airport to the Greyhound terminal (I may be wrong). I've taken a Bieber Bus many times to and from Philadelphia and Allentown, and also from Allentown to NYC. I always found them comfortable, clean and efficient.

    Bieber Tours - Home
  • teriwttteriwtt Super Moderator Posts: 12,525 Super Moderator
    lderochi - I've been studying the SEPTA website, but can't figure out which would be the best stop for me to get off at, to get the Bieber, thinking my only option was going all the way into downtown. So Bieber has a stop at the 30th Street Station? I had assumed that I'd have to take the train into downtown Philly, and catch the Bieber from their 10th and Filbert station. But if both train and bus stop at 30th Street Station, then that would be the obvious choice.
  • roshkeroshke Registered User Posts: 3,102 Senior Member
    It's a pretty straightforward trip if you do decide to drive it - the airport is just 5 miles from 476N, which takes you all the way to Allentown. It would probably take you about an hour and fifteen minutes or so.
  • lderochilderochi Registered User Posts: 2,035 Senior Member
    Yes, the Bieber bus does stop at 30th Street Station -- I'm not sure now with all the construction going on exactly where it stops, but their schedule says 29th between Chestnut and Market. It's not a covered bus stop or anything. You basically just have to be waiting there. But Roshke is right -- it's such an easy trip from the airport to Allentown that renting the car might just be the easiest solution, albeit more expensive.

    I'm a little confused, though -- you say you only need a one-way car rental because once you get to Allentown your daughter has a car? So she'll be driving you back to the airport in Philly? It would probably be cheaper just to rent the car for the whole time and return it to Philadelphia when you go back to the airport. Those one-way car rental fees can kill you.
  • teriwttteriwtt Super Moderator Posts: 12,525 Super Moderator
    roshke - I've driven it several times, as I usually fly into Philly, then rent a car. But since my daughter has her car at school this year, it seems like a waste of money for me to rent one.

    The trip is a bit more complicated than I shared at first. I will see D2's concert, then take her car up to Boston, where D1 just moved last weekend, and help her get settled in her new place (she's staying with a family friend right now). Then I will drive back to Allentown, about the time D2 will be finished with finals. Then she and I will drive back home to Chicago for her winter break (four weeks), so she can have a car while she is at home. I was originally going to just fly out to Allentown to make the trip home with her, but when I found out her concert is the week before she's done with finals, I decided to make the trip earlier, then go up to Boston, and back to Allentown, then to Chicago.

    I've driven these routes many times, except for the one to Boston... in fact, never been there before at all. So any suggestions anyone has for driving from Allentown to Boston, I'd appreciate that, too. I know I have a couple of options, one of which is to drive up further north of NYC and cut across; the other one being to drive closer into the city, which would be less miles. But I suspect traffic would make both options about the same. And unfortunately, it looks like I'll leave Allentown on a Friday, so I know traffic will be even worse.
  • mattmommattmom Registered User Posts: 1,763 Senior Member
    I'd say go with the car rental to get to Allentown. The amount iof time it will take to use public transportation in this instance doesn't seem worth it in a busy schedule.

    As far as the Allentown to Boston trip, I'd say avoid the Tappan Zee Bridge. I don't know the drive to Boston very well but my sense is that from Allentown you would take 78 East to 287 North to the Thruway to the bridge in Newburgh that takes you to 84. That will be longer in terms of miles and risk some traffic anyway, depending on time of day, but will be better than the highways closer to NYC. It is also pretty simple, though long.
  • deb922deb922 Registered User Posts: 4,623 Senior Member
    Another option is to fly out of Newark and there is a bus that take you from the airport to Allentown Trans-Bridge Lines

    I see now that you are only flying one way and I have no idea how that would work flying out of Newark.
  • JustAMomOf4JustAMomOf4 Registered User Posts: 4,563 Senior Member
    Allentown to Boston - I drive this route several times a year (actually up to NH).
    The TappanZee Bridge does freak out a lot of people.
    So yes - the easiest route is I-78, to I-287, to I-87 which is the NY Thruway. In Newburgh take I-84 (the toll is much cheaper than the TappanZee!).
    I-84 will take you across all 100 miles of CT and up to Sturbridge Ma where you can take the Mass Pike. Plan on about 5.5 hours from Allentown to Worcester.

    RE: one way car rentals - I rented a car via Hertz in NC and drove it one way to PA and didn't pay anything extra at all.
    OTOH - the Bieber bus will only charge you about $14.00 for the trip from the 30th st station to Allentown.
  • my-3-sonsmy-3-sons Registered User Posts: 2,785 Senior Member
    Mattmom's route to Boston is the easiest one to take. I have family in the Nazareth area and have done this drive many times, including this past weekend. Taking 78E to 287N to 84E to 90E is a nice uncomplicated drive. It should take about 5 1/2-6 hours with minimal stops.
  • teriwttteriwtt Super Moderator Posts: 12,525 Super Moderator
    mattmom - what I think I will do is plan for the public transportation route, and if flights are running behind, etc., and I need to make up time, I will rent a car. While it seems like a busy schedule, the only flexibility I don't have is the evening of the concert, and getting back to Allentown from Boston in order to pick up D2 after her finals.

    Thanks to everyone who has suggested routes to Boston. I am a very experienced driver/traveler, so I don't mind driving through areas that others avoid (high traffic areas, unfamiliar areas), but I do want to take the route that is quickest.

    The reason I am flying into Philly instead of Newark is so I can fly Southwest. They only fly into Philly (although, right now they have a DING fare to Long Island/MacArthur for $52 one-way, but that would turn into an all-day trip getting from there, into NYC, then getting a bus to Allentown!)
  • JustAMomOf4JustAMomOf4 Registered User Posts: 4,563 Senior Member
    If you want to take the TappanZee bridge - it's not so bad if you don't mind driving in traffic. Sometimes it is pretty quick and sometimes not. Just stay on I-287 instead of going up the thruway. If the weather is clear it is actually pretty and coming off the brigde you can see the NYC skyline. We used to be able to see the twin towers - :(

    After the TappanZee, you can either take the Saw Mill Parkway or take the Cross West Chester Expressway (an oxymoron) to I-684 exit 9-A. I usually go up 684 since the Saw Mill can be slow. 684 takes you up to I-84 and almost to Danbury.

    I think your biggest hurdle will be getting to Allentown. Any chance your daughter can drive down to Philly and pick you up?
  • Jolynne SmythJolynne Smyth Registered User Posts: 2,714 Senior Member
    It's not a bad drive from Philly to Allentown-as said before, 476N is minutes from the airport & a straight shot to Allentown.
  • JHSJHS Registered User Posts: 17,020 Senior Member
    Not that it matters, but the SEPTA train from the airport will take you to the Market East station, which is one block from the Greyhound terminal (if that's what you want), and two blocks from 10th and Filbert. So, public transportation is completely do-able. That said, I imagine it would add 1-1/2 - 2 hours to your trip from the Philly airport to Allentown, so you can value that against what you would save.

    I have made if from my home in Philly to Cambridge in just under 6 hours, with one gas stop (and no really bad traffic). Starting from Allentown should cut at least 45 minutes off that. Mattmom and JustAMom's routes are the same, so do that.
  • walkinghomewalkinghome Registered User Posts: 7,701 Senior Member
    If you take the bus, you definitely want to use Bieber from Philadelphia to Allentown. If by any chance you are coming in on December 15th, I can give you a ride - I'll be at the airport picking up my son! Are you sure daughter can't pick you up? It's about an hour from her college. The regional rail SEPTA has a stop in Lansdale, about 35 minutes from Allentown. My daughter took it into Phil. on Friday, it's very easy to get to.
  • JustAMomOf4JustAMomOf4 Registered User Posts: 4,563 Senior Member
    ^ This may be the best idea yet, if your daughter doesn't want to drive to the airport to get you.
This discussion has been closed.