DOT funds to ease truck parking problem and more.

39 projects awarded $500 million in grants

Truck parking has long been a major concern for truck drivers. One of the 39 new transportation projects being funded through the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) is a $25 million grant to provide real-time truck parking information along interstates in 8 states.

The grant from the DOT’s Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) 2015 program will create a regional truck parking information management system along interstates in Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin. The system is designed to provide truck drivers with real-time information enabling truck drivers to make better and safer parking decisions. For more details on the TIGER program visit the Transportion.gov website or this DOT press release.

While this is a great idea and good first step, it hardly fixes the truck parking problem nationwide. Giving drivers real-time access to parking information is a good tool and great resource but what truckers need are more parking areas built and ones with amenities, access to food, lodging, retail and repair/service areas.

In addition to the truck parking management system other DOT projects include:

  • A $15 million grant to construct a grade-separated highway overpass and a double-track rail line in Maricopa, Arizona.
  • A $16 million grant for improvements to support the accelerated replacement of the Portal Bridge in New Jersey.
  • A $16.9 million grant to convert Dixie Highway in Louisville, Kentucky, to a bus rapid transit (BRT) corridor.

The TIGER program began in 2009 and has provided a total of $4.6 billion to 381 projects in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.

There are many challenges ahead in the effort to make traveling safer for everyone by fixing our roads, highways and bridges. We are encouraged to see the concerns of truck drivers being addressed by providing tools to help truckers find available truck parking. If this system works it would likely lead to expanded systems to other high traffic, limited parking areas of the country.

Truck parking reservations at existing truck stops are quickly becoming more common.

Some truck stops are instituting a parking reservation system, but many driversreserved truck parking surveyed about the reservation systems dislike them. In a recent ATRI survey, 48% of drivers reported were not willing to pay for space.

TA Petro has a reservation system in place networkwide called Reserve-It. The price ranges from $12 to $15; the current average is $12.86. The Reserve-only spaces only account for 8 percent of the network’s total parking inventory, approximately 3,750 spaces, but that would generate $17.6 million annually if all the spaces were filled every night based on the average price. With that kind of potential, you would think the other large truck stops are sure to follow. The problem is that, of the drivers surveyed, only 12 percent of drivers said they would be willing to pay the average rate charged for TA Petro spaces.

Scott Grenerth, director of regulatory affairs for the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association says, “We’ve got to make sure there’s parking available to people. An owner-operator can write off a paid space for tax purposes, or you might be able to say, ‘I spent x amount for a parking space – but I knew I would get a free shower.’ But when you are a company driver or are leased and only get fuel discounts from certain providers, you might be forced to pay for space, and there may be no payback.”

Last month, there was a buzz around the web about Pilot Flying J’s MyPilot app software update that featured a new parking reservation system at select locations. Drivers reported seeing spaces blocked off for reservations at the Flying J location in Frystown, Pa., off I-78, and at a newer Pilot facility in Eastern Illinois on I-70. Staff at the Frystown location confirmed spaces were available there for reservation for $11 each.

Hopefully, the real-time parking solutions like the TIGER program will expand to all states and that federal and state budgets will allow for additional parking areas to be created to ease the truck parking problem.

Let us know what you think. Do you think the TIGER system would be a useful tool that truckers would use? How much would you be willing to pay to reserve a parking spot?