Spring renews conflict between D.C. locals and tour buses

By Robert Thomson
Sunday, April 4, 2010

Each spring renews the conflict between local drivers and tour buses.

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

I was on Reno Road NW on Saturday afternoon [March 27] and came upon a sightseeing bus blocking the road.

The bus was between Woodley and Cathedral, southbound, straddling the lane marker, with flashers on, stopped dead. It was not at a traffic signal.

I figured the driver was letting the folks onboard take pictures of Washington National Cathedral. After about two minutes, it moved on, then stopped, again straddling the lanes so no traffic could get by on either side. After about 30 seconds, it moved on, turning left.

The bus stopped again, straddling the two lanes and blocking traffic. Cars had backed up behind it by this time. I figured the driver was telling folks about the vice president's residence at the Naval Observatory. Finally, the bus moved on and slid into the left lane, allowing us to get by.

Now, I'm happy to allow tourists the chance to enjoy our city, but I had never seen this kind of behavior by a sightseeing-bus driver. I don't think this practice is safe. Is it permissible for these drivers to block lanes and tie up traffic like this?

-- Bob Witten, Chevy Chase

No, bus drivers shouldn't be blocking traffic, and police -- if they spot them -- should get the buses moving properly. Other spots where dawdling or improperly stopped buses have annoyed drivers include Woodley Park by the National Zoo and the commuter routes around the Lincoln Memorial. Where else?

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