The District government has proposed banning tour buses from some residential streets in Woodley Park and Foggy Bottom following complaints from residents.
The regulation imposing the ban is expected to take effect in about six weeks. It would create new restrictions in Woodley Park and make permanent a five-year-old "temporary" bus ban already in effect in Foggy Bottom. The new traffic regulation would also pull together the existing bans in the Deanwood area of Northeast and along several Northwest streets.
Under the proposal, all but school buses would be banned from the Woodley Park streets and all buses would be banned from three streets in Foggy Bottom.
Residents of Foggy Bottom and Woodley Park, annoyed at large tour buses clogging their narrow streets, have long sought the restrictions.
Some private bus companies have opposed the restrictions, however, charging that it would be especially difficult to serve the Shoreham Hotel in Woodley Park.
"There are times when we have one large tour bus every three minutes," said Charles Warr, president of the Woodley Park Community Association and cochairman of the transportation committee of the local Advisory Neighborhood Commission.
Warr referred specifically to tour and shuttle buses that service the Shoreham and nearby Sheraton Washington hotels, which often use 29th Place, Cathedral Avenue, Woodley Place and Woodley Road.
In Foggy Bottom, the five-year-old temporary restrictions have kept buses off several streets since a clash between residents and operators of the River Inn, at 924 25th St. NW.
The hotel attracted tour buses onto narrow 25th Street and sent "the neighborhood up in arms," said Geoffrey Stamm, chairman of the Foggy Bottom Advisory Neighborhood Commission.
"Besides clogging traffic by unloading people on narrow streets, they were noisy and polluted the air," Stamm said.
In response, "citizens put in hundreds of hours of volunteer work and thousands of dollars for legal services" to get a temporary ban and now a proposed regulation.
Tour bus operators warned, however, that a ban on buses could backfire and produce even more problems for neighborhoods. "If they keep the buses out, they're going to get more cabs, more cars, more congestion," said Ralph Webb, general manager for Spirit of '76 tour bus company, which frequents the Woodley Park area.
Paul Nagle of United Bus Owners of America, an association, has filed objections with the D.C. Department of Public Works. The Shoreham Hotel would be out of reach for tour buses, he said.
Woodley Park residents, especially the area's elderly, began fighting the buses about two years ago when the larger buses began using Woodley Park side streets en route to Dulles Airport, Warr said. "That was the final straw."
George Schoene, chief of the Bureau of Traffic Services, said, "We try hard to bring people together to find solutions to these problems."
He added, however, that "traffic regulation, by the nature of traffic itself, changes. When conditions change, then we may have to change these regulations again."