How To: Bus Parking Dilemmas

Jim Luff
Posted on August 29, 2018

You have to know where you can and where you can't.

You have to know where you can and where you can't.

Never assume your chauffeur or driver will figure out parking routines and rules on arrival. You have to avoid surprises for them and your passengers.

Why Planning Is Important

It’s easy to assume your driver will be guided to a parking spot when he arrives at a hotel, entertainment venue, or other destination. Never expect your client has thought about parking. Unless you are working with an experienced tour company or guide, parking is probably the least of their concerns. That is why you must take the lead and explore every stop on an itinerary requiring long term parking.

Is Parking Available?

In places like San Francisco, parking for passenger cars is at a premium and many downtown hotels have underground parking for cars but no place for buses. Finding a public lot that can hold a large bus will likely be difficult, and if it’s far away from the hotel, transportation arrangements will need to be made to get the driver to the hotel. Many facilities such as convention centers and theaters have loading zones, but don’t allow vehicles to park unless they are actively loading or discharging passengers.

How Much Will It Cost?

Don’t assume your driver will have enough money in his pocket to cover a parking fee. A parking spot for a bus or limo during the Rose Bowl football game will cost $300. However, if you attend the Ed Sheeran concert this month at the same venue, parking for limos and buses is $200. If your group is staying at the Four Seasons Hotel in San Francisco, you can plan to pay $85 per night. As you see, the rates can be extremely high and must be passed on to your client. It’s always best to know this and discuss it before the trip begins.

Parking Lot Contractors

Many venues hire third party contractors to run their parking lots. At the Rose Bowl, they use LAZ, StubHub Parking, and ParkJockey that run various sections of the parking lot. Smaller venues may contract with non-profit organizations such as the Boy Scouts. In these arrangements, the parking contractor rents the parking lot for a set fee. They staff it, provide cones, directional signs, etc. and they can charge any amount they want. The closer the parking spot is to the entrance, the more it is likely to cost. This is important to note because you or the driver might be inclined to try to negotiate with the venue that will not have any control or authority of the pricing once the contract is in place.

Hotel Parking and Services

Most high-end hotels in big cities charge for parking. You can expect to pay three times the amount of a passenger car since a bus will take up at least three spaces. If your passengers are staying overnight at a hotel, ask them to arrange and pay for parking with the sales manager of the group reservation. If they are booking 25 rooms for the night, they are in a much better position to negotiate a parking rate. Overnight parking at the hotel can provide certain conveniences for your driver to service the interior of the bus. There are trash facilities and possibly water hoses for toilet tanks or fresh water holding tanks. The food and beverage manager may be willing to fill ice chests or deliver ice to the side of the coach just before departure.

You must take refueling into consideration.

You must take refueling into consideration.

Other Long Distance Trip Considerations

Traveling long distance, especially multiple day trips, requires advance planning for other things.

  • Refueling: If you use a fleet card fueling program, provide your driver with fueling locations along the route. If you know passengers will be off the bus for an extended period, provide the driver with a fueling location in the area.
  • Dumping holding tanks: Finding a location to dump holding tanks can be a bit of a challenge. Places that might be RV friendly may not accommodate a motorcoach. Empty the holding tank daily to avoid a foul smelling lavatory, or worse yet, the entire coach. Supply the driver with enough toilet chemicals and deodorant tablets.
  • Water storage: Places with a sewage dump may not have potable water. If the trip includes an overnight stay at a hotel, ask the hotel in advance if it has a place to connect a hose to a freshwater source. Keep a garden hose in the cargo hold.
  • Disposing trash: When you have a full bus with more than 50 passengers, trash can accumulate quickly with beverage containers, food wrappers, straws, and napkins. Hotels will not appreciate drivers dumping large bags of trash in the receptacles in front of the hotel. Make sure your drivers find dumpsters and throw trash away in a proper place.
  • Replenishing ice: Hotels are usually pretty generous about providing ice for charter buses. Bring your own bags to fill up with ice and take to the bus. The hotel food and beverage staff may deliver ice to the bus in some cases. Make sure your driver has some cash to provide a tip. If the driver can't get ice from the hotel, a grocery store is probably the most convenient place to buy ice. The parking won't be an issue and the price will be cheaper than a convenience store.

Great Ideas provides a broad range of information focused on new ideas and approaches in management, human resources, customer service, marketing, networking and technology. Have something to share or would like covered? Contact LCT contributing editor and California operator Jim Luff at [email protected]

Related Topics: buses, hotels, How To, motorcoaches, special events, sporting events, working with hotels

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