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Washington, appears to us to provide an example which might well be imitated by other main tourist centers in the country. We respectfully suggest that buses handling such touring groups should be permitted to make the Visitors Center their first stopping place.
We are very much interested also in the proposal of the Washington civic groups for an exposition and transportation interchange on the site selected by them. From a transportation aspect, we feel that this offers a practical solution to our constant and increasing concern of inadequate terminal facilities here and the growing congestion of traffic on the downtown streets. Our buses are large; they have to be. We know we add to traffic congestion and this makes it worse for the citizens of Washington, as well as ourselves. It is somewhat defeating to arrive at the outskirts of the city on schedule, and be 30 minutes late by the time you reach our terminals. The use of the center leg, the consequent elimination of traffic congestion, and equally adequate terminal facilities will enable us to improve our service considerably. If the 5 million annual passengers per year we carry, plus the 420 individual buses to and from Washington, are added to the figures given by Mr. Jessup, this results in 9 million bus passengers annually and 780 total daily number of buses. Taking these off the city streets would be of great benefit both to the citizens of Washington, as well as ourselves.
From our national experience we can do nothing but applaud, Mr. Chairman, your Visitors Center as set forth in H.R. 12603. This will be a model for other cities to follow. So, also, will be the proposal of the Washington civic groups, and I hope in this brief statement I have been able at least to indicate the interrelationship between the two.
On behalf of Mr. Greenslit, myself, and our corporation, I wish to thank you for the opportunity to present our views. Mr. Gray. Thank you,
Mr. McKibben. That was a very forthright and very fine statement. I noticed you testified to the fact that 9 million bus passengers come to Washington each year. Would you hesitate to guess about how many of those are through passengers and how many right stay here for a visit? I am talking about visitors versus the intrastate or interstate passengers,
Mr. McKIBBEN. Of course Washington is quite a visiting center, as you know, and it would be a little difficult without checking the records. I would like to ask Mr. Jessup what percentage you think. .
Mr. JESSUP. Washington is a destination city.
Mr. Gray. You would say a majority of them would stay some time
Mr. JESSUP. I would say 85 percent.
Mr. GRAY. Ten percent would go on through and 90 percent would stay. The reason I asked that question, we are thinking seriously of putting in at least eight ramps leading into the parking area, four in and four out, and making provisions for a very high ceiling on the ground level in order to accommodate a large number of buses, because we feel that with the escalator system that we would propose in the upper levels of the parking garage, it would be very easy for the private car owner to get out of his car and come down the escalator. We could carry large vehicles on the ground level, and it would be much better. I was trying to get some reading as to how many buses, and what per
centage of people who come here by bus would be potential visitors. Do you think it would be a large number, those who come here by bus are probably coming to stay a short period, and would do some sightseeing?
Mr. McKIBBEN. Yes; that is true. Why I gave that figure, I believe our figure would be like 10 percent, Mr. Jessup said 15—we run a number of trips that bypass Washington on our New York-Florida service that circle around.
Mr. GRAY. Those that come here generally are coming to the city for a visit of some duration, otherwise he could have taken a through bus.
Mr. McKIBBEN. I did not put in our prepared statement the number of chartered buses we operate into this area, which would give you some idea of the number of people that come here. I took this from our 1966 records. We have to report our miles to the Utilities Commission in the District, and we operated 4,441 charter buses into Washington, in and out of Washington, last year. Mr. GRAY. 4,400.
Mr. McKIBBEN. Which we reported to the District of Columbia Commission here.
Mr. GRAY. When you say we, are you referring to all of your affiliates all over the country?
Mr. McKIBBEN. No, we, Greyhound Lines, Inc.
Mr. Gray. Let's say I have a school group in West Frankfort, Ill., my hometown, and they call the nearest affiliate and they charter a Greyhound bus and they come to Washington.
Mr. McKIBBEN. That's counted in there, those charters into Washington.
Mr. GRAY. What is your average bus capacity per bus?
Mr. McKIBBEN. That was chartered, you understand, special buses bringing groups into the District.
Mr. Gray. That number probably increases each year, does it not?
Mr. McKIBBEN. One year it was down a little when we had the little disturbances, and it was anticipated at that time, but usually it is on the increase. Our business has been increasing each year.
Mr. GRAY. All the time.
We thank you very much. You have been very helpful to our deliberations.
Mr. MCKIBBEN. Thank you. (Extended remarks follow :)
EXTENDED REMARKS TO STATEMENT OF H. VANCE GREENSLIT, CHAIRMAN,
GREYHOUND LINES, INC. (AS REPRESENTED BY VIRGIL T. MCKIBBEN) I am most pleased to have the opportunity to extend my remarks due to the unanimous consent of the Committee and appreciate the interest and courtesy already given me at the meeting on September 13, 1967.
Under the provisions of the Bill under consideration, the railroads are to build new terminals at the Visitors' Center site. Their present terminals were built in the early years of this century, and I am sure the railroads will make many changes to improve efficiency and convenience of their patrons.
The above equally applies to Continental Trailways and ourselves in the Exposition and Transportation Center. Not only are our present terminals in Washington completely inadequate for our present volume of traffic, but they are also obsolete. We look forward to the opportunity of participating in the designing of these new terminals to provide the maximum in operation and comfort for our patrons. In fact, this is the objective of both interstate lines in order that these facilities may serve as a model for the other major cities of the country, and what better place than in the nation's capital.
I have been informed that Mr. Jessup has offered the experience of Continental Trailways in assisting in the design of the facilities for chartered buses at the Visitors' Center. We also will be glad to join with them, and if either or both of us can be of help, we would appreciate your calling on us.
Mr. Gray. The next witness is Mr. Clarence Arata, executive director of the Washington Convention and Visitors Bureau, Washington, D.C.
Mr. Arata, we are certainly happy to have you this morning, and appreciate very much your coming.
STATEMENT OF CLARENCE A. ARATA, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR,
WASHINGTON CONVENTION AND VISITORS BUREAU
Mr. ARATA. Mr. Chairman and members of the subcommittee, my name is Clarence A. Arata, executive director of the Washington Convention and Visitors Bureau. The office of our organization is located at 1616 K Street NW., Washington, D.C.
The Washington Convention and Visitors Bureau has been in continuous operation since 1931 and is the only agency, public or private, primarily responsible for the promotion of the visitor and convention traffic into this area. The bureau is a nonprofit organization, supported financially by over 1,200 business firms in the metropolitan area which supply 90 percent of our funds, and the District of Columbia government, which furnishes the remaining 10 percent.
I am also first vice president of the National Association of Travel Organizations, a nationwide trade association acutely interested in furthering travel to and within the United States and the proper accommodation of those who do travel. A representative of this organization is also submitting a statement today in support of H.R. 12603.
Because of our very close relationship with visitors, either as tourists or as convention delegates, we are keenly aware of the need for a visitor information facility. Our bureau, therefore, has constantly urged and supported efforts to establish a visitor information center in the District of Columbia. While we make some efforts to furnish information to visitors, we know that most visitors to this area do not reecive a good indoctrination of the entire meaning of a trip to Washington and its many historic and currently meaningful points of interest.
Our bureau publishes and distributes millions of pieces of literature annually for the benefit of our visitors, and we have in circulation perhaps the finest film available on the Washington area. Not only are our literature and films available in English, but also in foregn languages in order to attract foreign visitors as well.
But we know that the big void in properly welcoming and indoctrinating our visitors is the lack of a central visitor center which could and should prepare the visitor for a memorable experience when coming to the great National Capital area.
Further, in the current concept of a truly “national” visitor information facility, the millions of visitors who come here could be intelligently informed by exhibits, films, and displays on the attractions
of every State, territory, and possession of the United States as well as the District of Columbia.
It is a recognized fact that travel stands third in this country as an industry. One needs only to look at the tremendous increase in pleasure visitor and convention traffic in the Washington area.
Prior to World War II, visitors here numbered between 1 and 2 million per year. In 1950, tourists and convention delegates numbered about 3,300,000. In 1960, this figure increased to 713 million. In the last several years, we have had the large total of over 9.5 million pleasure and convention visitors.
Undoubtedly, this will increase to 15 and even 20 million within a relatively short time. These will be purely tourists and convention delegates. The pure business visitors, of course, increase these figures by additional millions.
This is more than purely commercial business. The opportunity presented by this city-to teach all our visitors the true fundamentals of democracy as exemplified by the shrines, memorials, and by the dayby-day democratic processes—is one we should not let pass.
Most often the visitor to Washington does not have more than a few days to spend here, particularly for sightseeing. Many of them go away without having had the chance to get the most meaningful results from their visit.
Only through a National Visitors Center equipped with literature of all types—with motion pictures and slides describing the major highlights of this area and of the entire country-with well-informed guides to properly orientate the inquisitive visitor—with panoramic visuals leading the visitor to his principal interests—with intelligently presented information to the hundreds of thousands of students with dramatic displays and information to the ever-increasing number of visitors from overseas-only with this kind of service can the visitor be properly rewarded.
We assume from the language and the tenor of H.R. 12603 that the need for and the desirability of a visitor information center has already been established in Congress.
Aš this committee well knows, desirable locations for a visitor center in Washington are fast disappearing. H.R. 12603 grasps an existing structure which could be relocated over the vast railroad tract area adjacent to Union Station. A new station could be built which would be much more efficient and more adaptable to current and projected railroad passenger needs.
This would then release the present Union Station structure for such alterations as would be required to provide the vitally necessary Visitor Center.
In view of the fact that there are few desirable locations left for the Center, Union Station seems to offer the best site, assuming, of course, that the parking facilities and the access roadways suggested by Mr. Gray's bill are an integral part of the entire project.
Traffic in Washington, as in all major cities, is a real problem. Traffic patterns around the Union Station area should and must be thoroughly thought out and solutions reached by the best traffic experts available, not only for the present but for the long-term use of the proposed visitor facility.
With the traffic problems solved, and with the necessary structural changes made, the National Visitors Center will become a monument to this forward-thinking Congress.
I would like to add these final points in favor of the Union Station site:
1. Union Station is an already established landmark in Washington;
2. From an architectural standpoint, it is recognized as a magnificent structure;
3. It commands one of the most impressive views in the city by day and by night;
4. It would seem to provide an easy flow of traffic within the building;
5. It has good proximity to the major points of interest in Washington;
6. It has sufficient interior area to provide the necessary services to visitors;
7. It has good freeway accessibility;
Mr. Chairman and gentlemen, we appreciate the opportunity to appear before you in support of H.R. 12603.
I again want to congratulate you on your forward-looking concept of this Visitor Center and appreciate the opportunity to appear before you today.
Mr. GRAY. Thank you, Mr. Arata. That was one of the most detailed and informative statements we have had in our hearings. It has special meaning since it comes from a representative of the Washington Convention and Visitors Bureau, who has been grappling with this problem for many years.
Let me ask you this: If the legislation that is proposed should become law and the National Park Service should take over the National Visitors Center, would it not still be feasible for the Washington Convention and Visitors Bureau to provide some of the literature which would speak directly for the people in Washington in such a Center?
In other words, we would hate to lose the service of this long-established group. Have you been handling this particular problem in Washington and do you foresee in this proposal, a place for the Washington Convention and Visitors Bureau ?
Mr. ARATA. I certainly do, Mr. Chairman, and as a matter of fact, we are currently providing the National Park Service at their roadside information stands, of which they have several now, with the literature that is given to those people who stop by the roadside stands and inquire about points of interest in Washington.
Mr. Gray. So you would not only expect to keep your interest but expand upon the work you have been doing and you conceive between the National Park Service running this and the Washington Convention and Visitors Bureau.