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Motorcoaches


Motorcoach operators provide an important service for tourists and visitors that travel to Washington, DC and the District Department of Transportation works to ensure efficient and safe mobility of motorcoaches traveling in the District while mitigating community impacts and preserving transportation infrastructure. There are five distinct types of motorcoach services provided in the District on a regular basis:

  • Charter/tour - chartered to bring tour groups into the District either on day trips or as part of a multi-day itinerary 
  • Intercity - a low cost regional transportation alternative with point to point service between key destinations 
  • Commuter - regional transit service that transports workers to and from the District's key employment centers 
  • Sightseeing - scheduled hop-on/hop-off service between the District's key attractions. 
  • Shuttle services - vehicles used to transport employees between an organization's multiple office sites or students between campuses.

For motorcoach operator regulations, requirements, and tips are listed below. These regulations, requirements and tips also should be applied to school buses being used as tour buses for field trips.

If you would like to speak to DDOT’s Motorcoach department, contact Eulois Cleckley.

Industry Updates

SaferBus App - The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) makes it easy to check a bus company’s safety record on-the-go with the Saferbus mobile app. The app checks to see if a bus company is legally allowed to operate and flags any companies that have an unsatisfactory safety rating or inadequate insurance and provides a review of the company’s safety performance. The app is available for iOS and Android devices. Visit the FMCSA's website to get detailed instructions on how to download and use the app to ensure your safety is a priority of your chosen bus company!


2014 Tourist Season - Each year, the District receives its highest number of tourists during peak tourism season from April to August. Recently, DDOT shared an overview of rules, regulations, programs, changes and events related to Motorcoach operations in Washington DC in preparation for this year’s tourist season. View the presentation to learn more.

Hotline for Motorcoach Drivers and Tour Operators - DDOT has collaborated with Destination DC to establish a new one-stop shop for all the information motorcoach and group tour operators need to know when planning trips to the nation's capital. From parking, permitting and routing to itinerary planning, these information gateways can answer all your questions. The hotline will be in operation from 8:30am - 5:00pm EST, Monday - Friday. Simply call 1-855-67-BUSES (28737) to work with a travel expert!


An Interactive Truck and Bus (Motorcoach) Through Route Map is Now Available! - This map identifies the updated, official truck and bus through routes, restricted streets, parking, and pick-up/drop-off locations in the District. You also can download a PDF of the truck and bus routes and restrictions.


New User-Friendly Motorcoach Operators Guide - DDOT, in collaboration with Destination DC and the Downtown DC BID has developed a Motorcoach Operators Guide that can be downloaded and carried with drivers when operating in the District.


DDOT Motorcoach Action Plan - DDOT has undertaken a comprehensive review of motorcoach operations in the District and developed a report which includes short term, mid-term and long term recommendations for the management of this activity.


Tour Bus Parking Changes in East Potomac Park/Hains Point: - Effective June 30, 2011 - The National Park Service (NPS) is eliminating motorcoach parking along Ohio Drive in East Potomac Park. About a year ago, NPS adjusted the hours for parking along Ohio Drive to discourage commuter parking and promote visitor parking. This action has resulted in an unintended increase in tour bus parking along Ohio Drive causing safety concerns involving reduced visibility on narrow roads, safety for bicyclists, pedestrians, and other park users. Due to this change in tour bus parking, motorcoaches are encouraged to use the designated bus parking lot at the southern end of the park. In addition, motorcoach operators should prepare for this change in parking by being aware of the tour bus parking and loading/unloading along the National Mall and Memorial Parks. Tour bus loading/unloading is located in designated drop-off and pick-up zones that are indicated by appropriate signage throughout the park. Click here for a map and listing of these locations on NPS property and throughout Washington DC. More information is available on the National Mall and Memorial Parks webpage at www.nps.gov/nacc.


DDOT Proposed New Regulations for Commuter, Sightseeing, and Shuttle Buses.

Download a PDF of the truck and bus routes and restrictions.

Motorcoach Guide to Washington DC

The District Department of Transportation has developed a reference guide for motorcoach operators. We recommend that all motorcoach operators carry a copy of this guide when traveling to the District.

Parking

The District Department of Transportation works to ensure that adequate parking for motorcoaches is available. This is an ongoing challenge as there are many events occurring throughout the city on a daily basis and parking availability is limited. In order to successfully maneuver and park in the District it is important to know and follow traffic and parking guidelines and regulations, to be aware of pedestrians and bicyclists, and to read all signs before you park in the District.


DC Motorcoach Parking Map and Drop-off/Pick-up Locations

The District Department of Transportation has identified all motorcoach routes, parking, and drop-off/pick-up spaces in the District in an interactive map.

A list of the drop-off/pick-up and parking locations, a PDF map of the routes, restrictions, and parking, and the Motorcoach Guide are also available.

Arlington County, Virginia, has six tour bus zones with 44 parking spaces in areas convenient to local tourist attractions. These spaces are available on a first-come, first-served basis and cannot be reserved. Click here for more information.

The City of Alexandria, Virginia, allows motorcoach parking at designated locations. Some spaces in historic Old Town Alexandria require a free parking permit which must be obtained in advance; paid short-term parking is also available. Additional free, unreserved parking locations are available within three miles of Old Town. Click here for more information.


District Parking Guidelines
  • Please check posted signs before parking since some short and long-term parking is subject to change.

  • All buses must turn their motors off when parked. This is city law enforced by the Metropolitan Police Department. The fine is up to $1000 for a violation.

  • Don't embark or disembark passengers in "Loading Zones" or at Metrobus stops.

  • Don't park in any area posted "No Parking" or "No Standing."

  • Don't park adjacent to any residential property, school, playground, hospital, church or park. (A standing vehicle that is not loading or unloading passengers is considered to be “parked” regardless of whether the engine is on.) Fine for violation is $250.

  • Don't park in metered areas when the meters are in effect – unless the meters are designated for motorcoach parking.

  • No tour bus parking or standing on H Street, between Madison & 17th Street, NW.

  • Information regarding street closings can be obtained from the DC Government website here or by phone from the Office of Emergency Preparedness at (202) 727-3159.

  • All motorcoaches providing city tours must have a licensed DC Guide on board at all times. Tour guides should make specific pick-up time arrangements with drivers.

High Impact Zones

Certain locations within the District are more sensitive to bus parking due to the number of tourist attractions in an area. Bus parking is not permitted in these areas with the exception of Independence Avenue between 15th and 17th Streets. Violators will be ticketed and fined. These high impact zones are:

  • 10th Street between E and G streets

  • Ford's Theatre

  • Madame Tussauds

  • Old Town Trolley Visitor's Center

  • National Mall -- Independence Avenue between Ohio Drive and 3rd Street; Constitution Avenue between 23rd Street and 3rd Street

  • Georgetown -- K Street between 30th and 31st Streets.

Prohibited Parking Areas

Do not park in the following areas or you will be ticketed.

  • H Street
  • Pennsylvania Avenue
  • Water Street

Idling

Please show consideration for our environment and the District's anti-idling law. Motorcoaches may idle for up to three minutes in the District of Columbia, and may idle for up to five minutes if the temperature is 32 degrees Fahrenheit (32oF) or below.

Diesel Idle Reduction Video - DDOT and our sister agency DDOE have produced a short video to inform commercial vehicle drivers about the idling laws in DC, and to enlist their help in our Diesel Idle Reduction Campaign. Please share this with your groups and friends and help spread the word. Visit the Idle Reduction Campaign webpage for more information or to nominate a driver who exhibits positive idle reduction behavior.

Transit Connections

For information about Metrorail and connecting Metrobus routes at District attractions, call 637-7000 or go to wmata.com.

For information about the Circulator bus service and connecting Circulator bus routes at District attractions, call (202) 962-1423 or go to dccirculator.com.

Routing

Motorcoach operators must review their destinations and routes before coming to the city. Suggested routes can be found in the Motorcoach Guide to Washington, DC. View the District’s Interactive Truck and Bus Through Routes and Restrictions map to finalize destinations and routes.

Download a PDF map with motorcoach restrictions and routes.

View a PDF map with designated motorcoach routing around the US Capitol .

Street Closures

Special events, construction and security concerns result in occasional street closings. For information on street closings, please call the Office of Emergency Preparedness at (202) 727-3159 during business hours. You can also register to receive traffic updates from DDOT.

Registration or Permit Requirement for Chartered Buses

All operators must be in compliance with the chartered bus law prior to entering the District of Columbia. A bus from any US state or Canadian province used for conveyance of a chartered party with a seating capacity of greater than fifteen (15) passengers is required to obtain one of the following:

Any vehicle owner that uses a trip permit for a vehicle other than the one listed on the front of the trip permit, is subject to a fine of not more than $500 or 180 days imprisonment or both.

Any applicant that misuses, transfers or sells a trip permit is subject to a fine of not more than $1000 or 180 days imprisonment or both.

Any vehicle that does not have a trip permit or is not apportioned to operate in the District will be assessed a $500 fine.

For more information, go to the website for the DC Department of Motor Vehicles or call (202) 729-7078.

Commuter Buses

Commuter buses provide regular scheduled services between the District of Columbia and the surrounding counties for District workers. This is an important service that alleviates congestion by reducing the number of personal vehicles traveling to the city on a daily basis. The District Department of Transportation has several ongoing initiatives to ensure the effective management of this service. View a presentation of these initiatives or visit the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments Commuter Connections website.

Intercity Buses

Intercity buses provide an inexpensive long distance transportation option for people traveling to destinations such as Philadelphia, New York City, and beyond. The District Department of Transportation has recently conducted a study for the effective management of this service and drafted regulations governing the operation of intercity buses in the District.

View Union Station Rehabilitation Corporation's plans.

Useful Links

American Bus Association

United Motorcoach Association

Destination DC

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

District of Columbia Department of Motor Vehicles