Congress again eyes funding for truck parking expansion

Updated Apr 1, 2021

Trucking news and briefs for Tuesday, March 30, 2021: 

Truck parking getting renewed push in Washington
Trucking groups on Monday praised the reintroduction of bipartisan legislation addressing the trucking industry’s need for better access to safe commercial parking. A similar bill was introduced in March 2020, but it never advanced beyond the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.

The Truck Parking Safety Improvement Act was introduced by Representatives Mike Bost (R-Illinois) and co-sponsored by Reps. John Garamendi (D-California), Dusty Johnson (R-South Dakota), Pete Stauber (R-Minnesota), and Susan Wild (D-Pennsylvania). In addition, it is supported by the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, the American Trucking Associations, the National Association of Small Trucking Companies and more.

The bill would set aside $755 million from the Highway Trust Fund for states to finance projects aimed at increasing the number of parking spaces for commercial truck drivers. Funding could be used for the construction of new truck parking facilities, expansion of truck parking at existing rest areas, conversion of space at existing weigh stations, or any other innovative solution that increases capacity. 

“We’ve been sounding the alarm on the truck parking crisis for decades,” said OOIDA President Todd Spencer. “While Congress and the Federal Highway Administration have tried to address this issue with the enactment of Jason’s Law and launching the National Coalition on Truck Parking, the continued growth of the parking shortage shows the status quo is not sustainable. Congress must provide dedicated federal investment to expand capacity if it is serious about addressing the problem.”         

ATA President and CEO Chris Spear called the shortage of safe parking an "untenable dilemma" that puts drivers in the position to "either keep driving when they are fatigued and possibly in violation of their federal hours-of-service requirement, or park in unsafe, sometimes illegal locations, such as a roadside shoulder," he said. 

Currently, there are more than 11 truck drivers for every one parking space. Studies show that 98% of drivers report problems finding safe truck parking, and the average driver spends 56 minutes of available drive time every day looking for parking. That wasted time amounts to a $5,500 loss in annual compensation – or a 12% annual pay cut. Additionally, 58% of all drivers admit to parking in unauthorized or undesignated spots at least three times per week to meet their parking needs. 

Three more months to apply for PPP money
Owner-operators now have an extra three months to apply for Paycheck Protection Program funding following President Biden’s signature today of the PPP Extension Act of 2021.

The measure extended the March 31 deadline to June 30 for businesses interested in a loan, which is most cases can be forgiven, effectively turning the loan into a grant. 

Many leased operators and small-fleet clients who’ve received assistance through financial services provider ATBS have received loans in the neighborhood of $10,000. Most borrowers work through banks to get the loans under the program, which is administered by the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Business owners who’ve received a loan through an earlier PPP round face a requirement of having suffered a drop of at least 25% in revenue for any quarter in 2020 compared to the same quarter in 2019.

See Overdrive’s recent story for further information.

Diesel prices fall for first time in nearly five months

For the first time since the beginning of November, the average price of diesel prices in the U.S. fell during the most recent week, according to the Department of Energy’s weekly report.

During the week ending March 29, the average price for a gallon of on-highway diesel fell by 3.3 cents to $3.161, snapping a 20-week run of increases that saw fuel skyrocket by 82 cents. Prices topped out at $3.194 per gallon nationwide during the week ending March 22, which was the highest average fuel price since December 2018.

The most recent week saw prices fall in all regions except California, which saw a slight increase of two-tenths of a cent. The largest decrease was seen in the Midwest region, where prices fell by 4.5 cents.

The nation’s most expensive fuel remains in California at $3.982 per gallon, followed by the Rocky Mountain region at $3.294 per gallon.

The cheapest diesel can be found in the Gulf Coast region at $2.955 per gallon, followed by the Lower Atlantic region at $3.041 per gallon.

Prices in other regions, according to DOE, are:

  • New England – $3.091
  • Central Atlantic – $3.274
  • Midwest – $3.104
  • West Coast less California – 3.272

ProMiles’ numbers during the same week saw fuel prices fall by 1.9 cents, bringing its national average to $3.143 per gallon.

According to ProMiles’ Fuel Surcharge Index, the most expensive diesel can be found in California at $3.865 per gallon, and the cheapest can be found in the Gulf Coast region at $2.961 per gallon.

TA in mobile-maintenance-expansion phase | TravelCenters of America is expanding its team of expert technicians at its nearly 250 TA Truck Service centers nationwide, encouraging applications through April 28. The need for the additional personnel is a result, in part, of the expansion of TA’s TechOn-Site mobile maintenance team. TA is adding more than 50 new OnSite vehicles this year to provide maintenance and repair to drivers in their distribution lots or home bases, before departing to haul their freight. The team is going to grow by more than 250 full- and part-time tire and lube techs, in-bay techs and TechOn-Site personnel.TA in mobile-maintenance-expansion phase | TravelCenters of America is expanding its team of expert technicians at its nearly 250 TA Truck Service centers nationwide, encouraging applications through April 28. The need for the additional personnel is a result, in part, of the expansion of TA’s TechOn-Site mobile maintenance team. TA is adding more than 50 new OnSite vehicles this year to provide maintenance and repair to drivers in their distribution lots or home bases, before departing to haul their freight. The team is going to grow by more than 250 full- and part-time tire and lube techs, in-bay techs and TechOn-Site personnel.

TransAm Trucking raising owner-op pay
Kansas-headquartered TransAm Trucking announced this week a 3 cents-per-mile increase for both existing and new independent contractors.

Independent contractors with the company will now start at $1.07 per mile loaded and empty. The company also implemented an accelerated rate increase for owner-operators with an increase of 5 cents-per-mile after six months of continuous service with TransAm.

Within six months, owner-ops with TransAm could be earning $1.12 per mile loaded and empty, which is on top of other bonus opportunities the company offers.

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