Friday, May 26, 2006
Motorcoach Parking in Washington, DC
A couple of drivers told me this week that parking at Union Station in Washington, DC no longer includes in/out privileges -- you pay $20 every time you go in! I haven't been there in a couple of months so I haven't had a chance to check that out myself. Does that match other's experiences?
I checked the DC Web site on tour bus parking, updated as of 4/20/06, and they still list parking at Union Station as including in/out privileges. I hadn't realized I didn't have any DC links on my Links page, so I'll get this added shortly; meanwhile, here's a "must have" link if you go to Washington, DC and need to park anytime at all. Lots of good information here, especially in the 16 page PDF file on this page, which I highly recommend you print out and take with you:
If that link should stop working for some reason, do a Google search on "tour bus parking in Washington DC" and you should see it listed as one of the first listings.
Posted by Bob @ 10:35 AM EST [Link]
Wednesday, March 15, 2006
Best Parking Anywhere?
I'm currently on a five-day trip to Williamsburg, VA. Last time I was in Williamsburg (December) I had briefly checked out the Penske Bus Service Center, about a mile and a half from Colonial Williamsburg and just a few miles from Busch Gardens, on US Route 60 (7239 Pocahontas Trail, to be exact). Today I'm parked in their lot again, and checked it out a little more. I'm impressed! It's definitely one of the nicest places to park a motorcoach that I've ever come across. The photos above give just a small idea of what's here.
Photo 1 shows the lot itself -- wide and spacious, designed from the outset for bus and truck parking. The tour bus area has spots for approximately 50 motorcoaches (I'm one of only two here at the moment, but it is the off-season). Photo 2 shows the drivers' lounge building -- one of the largest and nicest I've come across. Photos 3 and 4 show two of the rooms inside the drivers' lounge -- each has TV, plus there are restrooms, vending machines (hot and cold food and beverages), microwave, comfortable seating, pay phones, and free wireless Internet service (which I'm using at the moment to post this -- it works fine!). The lounge is one of the cleanest I've seen, too.
In addition to parking and a drivers' lounge, there is a bus wash ($45 for an exterior wash, they don't do interiors), dump station ($30 includes chemicals), and fuel station. Unfortunately I had just refueled at the Texaco station on Richmond Road just before coming here, a spot motorcoaches have patronized for years, but which is really showing its age and not what it used to be. When I arrived at the Penske area here a few minutes ago, I discovered fuel was 6 cents a gallon less than I had just paid. So it's not overpriced here.
The lounge and parking area are available free of charge to all tour bus drivers from 7 AM to 11 PM daily. Oh -- Penske also has a bus maintenance facility here and can do minor repairs and servicing. The only things missing are a few restaurants within walking distance!
Posted by Bob @ 03:40 PM EST [Link]
Saturday, March 11, 2006
I've finally gotten well started on a complete makeover of this EightWheels.com site, including a few new features. There is a new passenger section, complete with guest book for my passengers, a FAQ, and a links page. There is also a new and separate guest book for drivers visiting this site -- if that's you, I invite and encourage you to sign the new Drivers' Guestbook!
I still have some work to do ... at the moment of this writing, this blog doesn't reflect the new design, and there is a little other tweaking to be done yet. But everything should be functional, so take a look around and let me know what you think.
Posted by Bob @ 09:27 PM EST [Link]
Tuesday, March 7, 2006
Parking at Union Station, Washington, DC
I frequently park at Union Station when I'm in Washington, DC -- great place to park if you want easy access to food, extended parking times, and don't mind the $20 fee for 7 AM to 7 PM parking (plus $10 for 7 PM to 7 AM). But the parking garage is currently under construction, and the old exit at the light in the rear of the garage onto H Street no longer exists. The only exit now, while still onto H Street, allows you to turn right only -- no left turns. And it's not easy to go around the block -- the next few blocks all have "No Buses" signs, prohibiting buses from going through residential areas. Here's the official way to get back to the front of Union Station to head back downtown:
- Exiting the garage, turn RIGHT onto H Street NE.
- Turn RIGHT onto 8th Street NE.
- Turn RIGHT onto Maryland Avenue NE.
- Bear RIGHT onto Massachusetts Avenue NE. (This will take you back to Columbus Circle in front of Union Station.)
According to the information on the sheet provided by the parking attendant at Union Station, "The DC Office of Infastructure [sic] and Oversight will issue fines up to $5,000 for any violation of these directions."
The red line on the map below illustrates the above directions:
There are currently less than 20 parking spaces for motorcoaches at Union Station, but when renovation of the parking garage is completed, there are supposed to be spaces for 100 motorcoaches -- a major improvement! According to the parking attendant, construction is to be completed by July 2006. (I'll believe that when I see it!)
Posted by Bob @ 06:23 PM EST [Link]
Monday, January 9, 2006
Sugar Bowl, Atlanta, GA
I really enjoy driving for longer trips that take me to areas of the country I don't see very often. I recently returned from Atlanta, GA, where I took a local band to play as part of the pre-game and halftime entertainment at the Nokia Sugar Bowl -- more than 74,000 screaming people crammed into the Georgia Dome. It was my first college football game, and first bowl game. Very exciting! And different in many ways from the pro football games I've attended. I really enjoyed it. That's one of the great things about this job -- you get to see places and do things you'd probably never otherwise get to see or do. I ended up rooting for Georgia, because I had these very nice, very polite Georgia fans sitting beside me, and some very obnoxious West Virginia fans constantly standing in front of me, blocking my view half the time! Unfortunately Georgia lost, 38-35, but it was a great game.
We stayed at an Embassy Suites hotel on the north side of Atlanta -- one of the most bus-unfriendly hotels I've stayed at. The hotel itself was nice (see my review in the forums, Places to Stay). But we always had to back up this ramp to park the coaches -- see the photo at right. And if other coaches beat us there (six coaches at the hotel, parking for four), we had to back past them to park. Fortunately most of the three nights there, we were the first parked, and made sure we left as much room as we could for the others -- but they had to back past us to park themselves. Lots of fun at night! It was good experience, but not a good place to send a new driver. Fortunately, I kind of like backing up, and I think I'm pretty good at it (tip: if you have passengers, make sure they're seated so you can see out the back window). I got plenty of practice on this trip.
It was my fourth trip to Atlanta in three years. The group did a little sightseeing (Stone Mountain, Coca Cola), and the previous experience made this trip easier. Nice trip -- I'm ready to go back anytime -- but I'll take a different hotel, please!
Posted by Bob @ 10:21 PM EST [Link]
Friday, December 9, 2005
NYC -- Radio City Drop-offs and Pick-ups, Christmas 2005
It's that wonderful time of the year once again when we've got lots of trips to Radio City Music Hall in New York City. I'm doing one or two trips, at least, every week right now. If you don't have this year's (2005) latest official information from the city, download it here now before your next trip (it applies from November 18, 2005 to January 2, 2006):
-- Text info: http://www.nyc.gov/html/dot/pdf/holidaymotorcoach05.pdf
-- Map: http://www.nyc.gov/html/dot/pdf/midmanmotorcoachmap05.pdf
Both are PDF files for you to print and keep with you. They're great ammunition if you are parked or drop legally and still get hassled by the police, as I did two weeks ago and talked my way out of a ticket; more on that coming soon in another post.
Posted by Bob @ 01:51 PM EST [Link]
Monday, November 14, 2005
No E-ZPass Here!
Just when you thought you'd seen it all ... this toll booth accident occurred somewhere in New York, but I don't have any other details. If you know anything about it -- when, where, who, etc. -- I'd love to know. The photos were forwarded to me from another driver, but I have no further information.
Posted by Bob @ 08:41 PM EST [Link]