October 20, 2017

About Bob Bergey

Bob has been driving motorcoaches since 2002, in every state east of the Mississippi and a few west, as well as the four southeastern-most provinces of Canada. In addition to driving, he's an avid photographer (and former professional), enjoys writing and technology.

New Look for MCI Coaches

I haven’t been very active on my blog here the past year, but I’m working on changing that and getting the site updated again. I’ve kept the Links pages pretty much up to date, but have a lot of other things to share, too, especially with other drivers. I’m planning to change the direction of the site more decidedly toward motorcoach drivers, not so much for motorcoach passengers, although I’m considering developing a separate site for passengers. Stay tuned.

Have you seen the new look of the MCI J4500 models? Both inside and out, MCI has refined and updated the look of their touring coaches. You’ll still clearly recognize them as MCI — they will stand out as different from Van Hool and Prevost just as much as in the past. Not a lot of details yet on their Web site, but early renditions and some information has been posted.

New 2013 J4500 MCI Coach Preview

In addition to the slick new appearance outside, the other thing that caught my eye was the improved cockpit layout, with the transmission controls much more logically placed for the driver.

One big question remains unclear: have the designers considered that passengers create trash, and that trash needs to go somewhere? Guess we’ll have to wait and see.

NYC 2011 Holiday Motorcoach Traffic Regulations Published

New York City has finally published their official 2011 Holiday Motorcoach Traffic Regulations. Although it was just published online this week, it was effective beginning November 18th and continues through January 2nd, 2012. View (and print) the PDF file with a listing and map of the new regs and parking areas here:

NYC 2011 Holiday Motorcoach Traffic Regulations

There are a few additions to previous parking locations, as usual. But there are also a few listings that in reality don’t exist currently, such as (23) 8th Ave between 54th and 55th Streets — currently taken up by construction barriers and other equipment.

There is still not nearly enough parking for the number of charter and tour buses in the city at this time of the year. It becomes a game, as coaches circle the parking areas looking for other buses leaving to pick up their groups. It’s not uncommon for buses to circle for 1-2 hours looking for parking, adding to the pollution, noise and traffic in NYC. While there is talk of various possible solutions, politicians are gridlocked, just like in Washington, DC, unable to come up with any meaningful solutions.

Initial Impressions of the iPad 2

I finally received my iPad 2 a couple of days ago. I had ordered it back on March 11, 2011, the first day it was available. I had initially tried to pick one up at an Apple store, and after waiting in line almost two hours, they ran out of the model I wanted. So I went home to order it online. But by that point, there was already a two to three week wait! Mine came almost three weeks to the day after I ordered it. 

I’ve had an original model iPad since June of last year, right after they came out. So this is an upgrade for me. In addition to the iPad 2, I also bought the black leather Smart Cover. 

The original iPad was—and still is—amazing. Magical, as Apple likes to put it. For Apple to improve the iPad so dramatically over last year’s model is quite a feat. The iPad 2 is about one third thinner, several ounces lighter, and nearly twice as fast for most operations. Graphics can be as much as nine times faster. Then there are the additions of both front- and rear-facing cameras, FaceTime, and other features and software additions. 

While some of the reviews have indicated the iPad 2 is an evolutionary upgrade rather than a revolutionary upgrade (I would tend to agree), the improvements are still very significant, and I think make it worth upgrading if you’re a daily iPad user. 

The biggest improvement is the form factor. While the original iPad was relatively thin and portable, the iPad 2 is even more so, and you can readily tell the difference as soon as you pick it up. Thinness counts. Less weight means it’s easier to hold for longer periods without your hands tiring so quickly. The display, which is the same resolution as the original iPad, is even brighter and easier to use outdoors or other bright lighting conditions. 

Of course, the improved speed is a major benefit, too. You’ll notice the difference as soon as you open an app you’ve used regularly before. Browsing the Web with Safari is better than ever. Sites load more quickly, and the new iPad has enough memory to remember sites you’ve visited recently. I’m not a game player, but if you are, you’ll see some dramatic improvements in speed, especially related to game graphics. 

The cameras are a bit of a disappointment. They are relatively low resolution, not very good for still photography. My iPhone has a much better camera. They are very adequate, though, for video and FaceTime, for which they were primarily intended. 

The Smart Cover is more useful and practical than I expected. Even though it covers just the front of the iPad, it folds open in several different ways to hold the iPad at an angle, for easier typing or viewing, or removes completely with an easy pull. It fastens magnetically along the one side of the iPad, clicking perfectly into position as soon as the edges get close to each other. When the cover is closed, the iPad automatically turns off. Remove the cover, and the iPad is instantly on. Brilliant design. 

The iPad is one of the most valuable tools a motorcoach driver can use. I’ll be posting another article shortly on how I’m using the iPad, updated from my earlier article with apps I think are most helpful to a driver. 

(Written and posted from my iPad 2)

Williamsburg Grand Illumination Video

I’m back in Williamsburg, Virginia today finishing up a three day tour to Colonial Williamsburg, featuring the Grand Illumination held at the beginning of each December to kick off the Christmas season celebrations here. I’ve seen the Grand Illumination fireworks before, but this year’s seemed better than ever.

Santa came to my house earlier than usual, this year, and left me my requested present — a new video camera — just in time to bring along on this Williamsburg trip! Nice of him, wasn’t it? Anyway, thanks to the new camera, I was inspired to video some of the fireworks. Here is my very first video posted on YouTube — edited down to about 5 minutes of the nearly 30 minute show. Hope you enjoy it!

Apple to Release iOS 4.2.1 Today

Apple has announced they’re releasing iOS 4.2 today at 1 PM EDT. It will finally bring multi-tasking and folders to the iPad, as well as a few new features to the iPhone and iPod Touch. All three devices will finally be running the same version of the operating system.

I’ve been using beta versions of iOS 4.2 on my iPad for the last several weeks. While the first few betas were somewhat buggy (surprise, surprise), the final Gold Master iOS 4.2.1 that I’ve been running the last few days has been perfect so far. I expect to upgrade to the final release version later this afternoon (conveniently, I’m off work today). Highly recommended.

Virginia Increases Interstate Speed Limits

I just returned last night from a three-day trip with a school group to Williamsburg, VA. I was surprised to find new speed limit signs being posted on most of the interstate highways in Virginia.

The speed limit has been increased from 65 to 70 MPH in the rural and less populated areas of the state. That includes much of I-95, I-495 around Richmond, and I-64, which I saw first-hand this week, as well as other interstates in Virginia.

The current governor of Virginia, Bob McDonnell, the same one who had made a campaign promise to reopen Virginia’s closed rest areas, had also promised to increase the speed limit to 70 MPH on most of the Interstate system in Virginia. He has followed through on both promises, and the somewhat controversial legislation was passed accordingly earlier this year effecting the speed limit increase.

“The increase in the speed limit from 65 to 70 mph in rural and less populated areas of the state will help Virginians arrive at their destinations quicker and safer and will speed the delivery of goods and services throughout the commonwealth,” according to a statement from the governor.

Most motorcoach companies have speed governors set at 70 MPH or less on their coaches, so it’s not likely to make a significant difference to motorcoach passengers, except they’re likely to see more cars flying past the windows. Of course, that was already happening with few automobile drivers limiting their speed to 65 MPH on the interstates.

2010 NYC Holiday Motorcoach Guide

New York City has just published the 2010 Holiday Motorcoach Operator’s Guide, the Midtown Manhattan traffic regulations for the remainder of the year. It includes specific drop-off/pick-up locations for groups going to the Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall, as well as a list of parking locations for motorcoaches.

It takes effect today (November 19, 2010) and goes through January 2, 2011.

Instructions are slightly different from last year. Make sure you read them carefully. Parking locations also have a few changes this year, with several streets being eliminated, and one or two new ones added. They are listed in the guide.

Download the two-page PDF file and take it with you: CLICK HERE to get the file. I’ve also added the link to the Parking & More page in my Links section.

Return to DC

I was back in Washington, DC again today (Saturday, 11/13/10), this time with a tour to the Metropolitan Cooking and Entertainment Show at the Washington Convention Center.

The Convention Center is one of the easiest attractions in Washington to access with a motorcoach. There are official drop/pick-up areas for motorcoaches on L Street, right in the center of the Convention Center. Coming in from I-95 and MD-295 (Baltimore-Washington Parkway), I followed New York Avenue (US-50) into the city, bearing right onto L Street just a couple of blocks before the Convention Center.

After dropping off, it’s easy to go around the block to Massachusetts Avenue to head toward Union Station and bus parking there.

Tomorrow I’m off to the Big Apple, with a tour to the Broadway show, “Promises, Promises.” And I expect to have some updated info on bus parking in New York City, including a PDF file for reference that I’ve been working on.

Veterans Day in DC

I’m in Washington, DC today (Veterans Day) with a group of veterans. I’m parked at Union Station as I write this, where things seem to be returning to normal. Bus parking is almost back to full strength. Whatever they’re doing in the bus parking area — can’t quite figure it out — they’re not doing today, at least, and only a handful of bus parking spots are taken up with construction equipment and supplies. The exit onto H Street is open again, too. Two weeks ago when I was here for the Sanity/Fear rally, about half the bus parking spots were roped off for the construction, and the H Street exit was blocked.

The restroom renovations on the second level of Union Station are done and will be appreciated by bus groups. They are bright and clean, all new fixtures and decor.

In the food court area there are still one or two vendors missing, but most are open for business as usual. I noticed there are even a few new stores on the third level.

Construction work on the Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge (also known as South Capitol Street Bridge) has been completed, and the 10 ton weight restriction was lifted as of October 1, 2010, meaning buses (and trucks) can again come into Washington, DC from MD-295 via Howard Street to South Capital Street. This is one of my favorite ways into the city and I’m glad we have it back as an option. I came that way across the bridge today.

The weigh station southbound on I-95 in Maryland was open this morning when I came through, but a bit of odd behavior: all buses and trucks had to go through the weigh station, but no one was being stopped on the scales. We all just drove slowly right on through. Not sure if the signs weren’t working, or if they have new drive-through scales, or what was going on. At least we didn’t lose much time.

Getting back to business here…

I have a few days off this week, so I’ve been working hard the last couple of days to get this site updated. I’ve installed a new blogging platform behind the scenes (based on the Genesis system for WordPress), and updated a couple of older posts. The category “Daily Notes” has been renamed as my Blog, and I hope to post here much more frequently in the future. The home page will still feature major articles, updated less frequently than the blog but hopefully more often than they have been the last six months. I’ve got a number of posts in progress, so you’ll see more here soon.