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25 Jun 2009


Police spot-check ghost tours, idling buses



Times Staff Writer
Police are spot-checking ghost tours and motor coaches in downtown Gettysburg, following complaints about oversized groups and idling buses.

“Since May 19, the police department had conducted 200 random checks on both buses and walking tours,” Gettysburg Police Chief Joe Dougherty told Borough Council’s public safety committee.

The only violation was a ghost group that exceeded 50 people.

Borough code allows 26 people on a walking tour, not including a group guide.

“They thought it was OK,” Chief Dougherty said, “because they had two guides.”

No citations were issued to the ghost tours, and no idling buses were spotted over the past month.

Borough Council adopted an ordinance in 2008 regulating all downtown walking groups, including ghost tours.

The code set the limit at 26 people per group, for safety reasons.

“We’re trying to keep our eye on it,” said Dougherty, adding that he has issued a memorandum to his officers, asking them to “step up” foot patrols.

Idling buses and ghost tours have been a concern for years in Gettysburg, even though they are both regulated by state and local law.

According to Councilman John Butterfield, state code prevents buses from idling longer than five minutes.

Additionally, if buses occupy a parking space, they’re required to pay the meter toll.

“At this point, by our ordinances, you have to pay the parking meters and turn your engine off,” said Borough Council Vice President Holliday Giles.

There is no public parking for buses in Gettysburg, and the lots that are large enough to accommodate them are located on private properties.

So once buses drop off groups at various museums or ghost tour agencies along Baltimore Street or Steinwehr Avenue, they have nowhere to go.

“We’re looking at different options,” Councilwoman Susan Naugle said regarding bus parking.

Naugle explained that property owners have expressed concern about damage and cleanup.

The bus drop-off issue is being studied jointly by the board’s public safety and public works committees.


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