Being a fan of valet parking and things like this that help to make life quicker and easier, I have to say that I was excited this year to be taking my truck and trailer to GATS in Dallas, giving me the opportunity to try out this new feature that some of the national truck stop chains have rolled out. I know this new “pay to reserve” feature has been getting a lot of negative vibes from within the trucking industry, with parking already being as scarce as it is, but I wanted to see what it was all about first-hand. As trip planning was crucial to make sure I knew where I was going, I decided to reserve a spot at the TA in Las Cruces, NM for the first leg of my journey to Dallas.
Having had already downloaded all of the apps for each major truck stop chain, I noticed that Pilot/Flying J and TA/Petro had the easiest to use access for this feature right through the app. Right away I noticed some good things about “pay to reserve” parking in that the locations are typically in the front row and very well lit. Although I pulled in early enough in Las Cruces that there would have been plenty of non-prepaid spots, they quickly filled up by nightfall and would have been worth their weight in gold towards the evening hours!
Making sure you have a spot to park is the upside, but taking up already precious resources is often seen as a downside. This charging for premium parking is often thought of as being used by truck stops to monopolize on supply and demand by some, which it probably is. Of course, it could be seen in a “glass half full” kind of approach, in that someone who can route plan effectively may now use this as a chance to not have to drive around a truck stop for 30 minutes looking for a space at the end of his/her clock. The one truly bad thing I did notice was that there can certainly be a tendency for someone who is not familiar with the traffic patterns of certain stops to reserve when it is probably not needed. For instance on my final layover before heading home in Lordsburg, NM, I awoke to there still being plenty of spots at 2am and was also the only truck in reserve parking all night, which I probably would have known if I ran there often enough!
Whether it is seen as a way for lot owners to make a profit, or as an offered convenience for the drivers that like to plan ahead, I think I like the newest offering of “pay to reserve” parking spots. The premium placement in the front row alone is enough for me to want to take advantage of using it! Getting to know which truck stops it is needed for would be very useful in making sure money is not wasted though. I guess for me, it was best to use it everywhere as I did, since I was not familiar with this route or any of the stops along it. I guess it could get a bit pricey, like showers if one did not utilize getting free showers for fueling. Perhaps one day we may see this as some sort of a point perk on our rewards cards?