Parking Solutions

Max Kvidera | January 01, 2012
If truck stops are full, owner-operator Larry Cunningham hunts for warehouse or industrial districts for overnight parking.

TA Petro counts 43,960 spaces at 230 sites, after adding about 2,000 spaces through acquisition and new sites this year. The company offers a TruckSmart smart phone app that updates parking availability about every two hours.

To its network of more than 17,400 spaces, Love’s Travel Stops is adding 1,820 spaces at 23 locations this year. Most of the additions are new construction, a spokeswoman says.

With the TruckerTools smartphone app, a user can find the number of parking places at any given truck stop. The same information is available online at Truckstopguide.com.

NATSO, an organization representing about 1,400 truck stops that provide about 90 percent of overnight truck parking, noted in a 2010 study that truck parking is more plentiful on interstates where commercial rest areas are prohibited. Under federal law, 14 states are permitted commercial services at rest areas.




PAYING TO PARK

An alternative to parking at truck stops and rest areas is private lots that offer security for a price. Many carriers maintain their own yards and make parking available, while private owners run lots in major markets.

TXS Secure Trailer Parking provides more than 170 truck and trailer parking facilities around the country. J.P. Harwood says he’s adding another 80 locations and aims to have up to 300 facilities by the end of 2012.

The facilities are private lots and fleet yards. Rates per space vary from $85 to $350 a month, depending on local real estate values.

Harwood says carriers and operators can park an entire rig or just a trailer in the facilities, but he requires the tractor and trailer be separated inside the fences. The driver can stay inside the facility in the designated truck parking area. “The idea is to protect the cargo of the other trailers,” Harwood says.

His current project is developing a wireless reservation system. A client would be approved after screening and a credit check. The user can pull into a facility when needed and receive an invoice when he leaves that will be billed to his card.

“The wireless reservation system is going to be a real asset for owner-operators,” Harwood says. Many parking yards don’t want to do business with owner-operators, he notes, because it’s hard to get paid. Yet it’s not cost-effective for most owner-operators to keep a monthly designated slot since they’re usually on the road. “Once they have an account with my company and have a need, they have a home away from home,” he adds. “They can leave their equipment and it will be there when they get back.”

In Phoenix, Security Truck Park offers more than 250 spaces for tractors and trailers in a lot with cameras that is patrolled by a guard. Customers vary from large carriers to long-haul owner-operators to local contractors who leave their car at the facility during the day. Vice President Pam Howerton estimates 25 percent of customers are owner-operators.

Drivers can stay with their trucks and use a driver’s lounge, vending machines, restrooms, TVs and free Wi-Fi. The facility plans to add showers within a year, Howerton says.

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