TA Petro Reserved Parking, Just Buck’s Opinion

TA Petro Reserved ParkingBefore I get into my opinion of TA Petro reserved parking as a solution to the truck parking shortage, let’s back up and take a quick history lesson. We need to know a few things before we take on the whole paid parking issue. I’m sure every trucker agrees that we do have a serious shortage of safe truck parking.

There’s No Such Thing As Free Parking

Let’s kill the first myth in the truck parking saga. Other than an occasional abandoned lot, truck parking is never free. Someone has to own the land, maintain the property, and clean up after the slobs that give the rest of us a bad name.

  • Parking on the off-ramps or on-ramps – If it’s even legal in the state, the tax payers pay for it. They pay to maintain, clean and repair the damage caused by heavy trucks and the slobs mentioned above.
  • Parking in public rest areas – Again, the tax payers pick up the tab.
  • Walmart, shippers, receivers and other businesses – They allow us to take up 75 feet of their real estate with our 80,000 pound campers.
  • Truck stops – Again, those large parking lots are built into the cost of doing business.

WAIT! Lets hone in on that last premise, parking is built into the truck stop’s cost of doing business.

This has been true for TA, Petro and the larger mom and pop truck stops for years. In fact, it was even true for Flying J until they were bought out by Pilot. This brings us to why I’m only giving my opinion on TA Petro Reserved Parking.

I’m not a fan of Pilot Travel Centers. They’ll buy a small lot with room for 25 or 30 trucks, then fuel hundreds of trucks per day. If you’re lucky enough, one of the few truck parking spots may be available. If you’re thinking about a dinner and a little TV, you’ll have to settle for fast food and whatever reception you can get on the TV in your truck.

I’ll stay away from the company’s criminal activities, but a quick Google search will quickly reveal how Pilot/Flying J corporate management was caught red handed in a giant fuel rebate fraud scheme. Convictions ran all the way up the chain of command to the president of the company. OverdriveOnLine.com can fill you in.

In my last year of OTR trucking, I think I took on no more than 50 gallons of fuel at a Pilot/Flying J. I did this because I think they’re a big part of the truck parking problem. I’m sure not going to pay for one of their few spots.

That Brings Us To TA Petro Reserved Parking

Full disclosure here. I’ve been out of the OTR game since August 2017. I don’t know what they charge now for a reserved spot, but it was about 13 bucks back then. If I knew I was heading into an area where parking was an issue, I’d reserve a spot. This usually happened in Gary, Indiana.

The Steel City Petro in Gary is a full service truck stop. Gary isn’t the safest city for spending a night, but reserved spots are close to the front. The truck stop also has a pretty serious security presence. Although the lot is huge, it usually fills up by 6:30 or so. If I knew I didn’t have the hours remaining to make it all the way up I-94 and into Wisconsin, I’d blow 13 bucks if I needed to, and reserve a spot.

Before you think I’m a little too free with my spending, let me tell you what I’d do if I knew I could make the Wisconsin state line. The last exit in Illinois is Russel Road, the exit with a large TA truck stop. That place is pretty packed by 6 pm too. I never paid to park there because the very next exit is the Wisconsin DOT weigh station with tons of truck parking. I’ll take a free scale house over blowing 13 bucks any day.

My Only Beef With TA Petro Paid Parking

One of the things I liked about PTI was the fuel program. Although I didn’t have total control over my fuel stops, I did have a few choices. My only limitation was to fuel at Pilot, Flying J or Loves. Needless to say, nearly all my fuel came from Loves, usually in Oak Creek, Wisconsin. I never purchased fuel at Petro or TA Travel Centers.

If I never buy fuel at TA or Petro, I totally understand why they’d want me to pay for parking in their busier stops like the one in Gary. What I don’t get is why the trucker who just filled up 2 tanks should have to pay for a reserved spot when the rest of the lot is full. Telling a customer who just fueled up to hit the road or fork over some cash is just bad business, especially when half the free spots are filled with trucks full of Pilot’s fuel.

The Paid Parking Shell Game

Pilot/Flying J, TA Petro and others are offering paid reserved parking spots as a way to help solve the parking shortage. But how does that work when not a single new spot is created? The “reserved” spots are just parking spots that used to be free of charge. More spots need to be created if we’re going to see a lessening of the parking shortage.

When it comes to TA Petro reserved parking, I think of it as a necessary evil. The alternative is to park by 5 pm in whatever time zone you’re in. But even at 5 pm, you are still out of luck in many parts of the country.

The Rest Of The Show

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Some Bright Spots In The Future Of Trucking

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