How many times have you been tempted to jaunt to Atlantic City for the weekend only to be thwarted by the transportation issue? You could take a private car, but that would use up all of the cash you plan on blowing at the roulette table. There’s always the bus; Academy is cheap and runs down 24 hours a day. The downside? Remember in Midnight Cowboy when that guy dies during the ride? He’ll be your seat mate.
Starting this weekend, getting to the roulette table just gets much easier. There will be a direct rail link from Penn Station New York to sunny Atlantic City. The ACES (Atlantic City Express Service) is the only way to go. Barfly had the pleasure to take a media preview ride and, believe us, there was not a dead guy to be seen on this train (we think we can say the same for the bus ride back, as the two gentlemen with oxygen tanks were probably just sleeping).
ACES departs from Penn Station, and the 2 hours and 40 minute ride goes by in a jiff. You won’t get antsy in the plush leather seats and, unlike the bus, your fellow passengers are people worth knowing. The best part? Why, the bar car of course. The train comes equipped with a full drink menu, with waitress service in first class and self-serve in coach. The drinks are reasonably priced; we noted bottles of Heineken for $6 and a single serve white wine for $7. Sandwiches and salads are also available, as you don’t want to get too tipsy before you hit the Casino floor and lose your rent money.
The drinks and the mingling lend an excited buzz as the train inches closer to its destination. The vibe on the bus is one of quiet, desperate anxiety. The vibe on the train is class all the way. Lounging in first class, watching the Jersey Pine Barrens go by, the murmur of the passengers talking about their posh dinner plans – it’s like a fifth grade school trip for well-heeled twenty and thirty somethings.
The ride costs $50 for a one way coach ticket and $75 for a one way first class, and tickets can be booked in advance on the train’s website. It isn’t necessarily cheap, but it is worth every single penny. Ladies and Gentlemen, be warned: once you take ACES, you will never be able to go back to other modes of transportation. Be sure to have your return ticket settled. That $300 you blew at craps will only matter if you’re down to your last $32 and have to use it for a bus ticket home. You think you have enough dignity not to weep in front of strangers? You’d be surprised.
You can check out www.acestrain.com to view schedules and reserve tickets. Barfly hit a bunch of AC hot spots on our visit (for you, gentle reader). Be sure to check in for our Libation Vacation series so you can plan your entire trip. Oh – and if you do head down this weekend- put $50 on black for us. We have to win back our utility money!