“There isn’t a day that goes by that a parking issue doesn’t come up, whether it is a driver that can’t find a place to park, or a customer won’t let them park,” said vice president of safety for Cargo Transporters, Shawn Brown.
Truck parking has remained a major issue for the entire trucking industry, an issue that has been significantly worsened by the coronavirus-induced boost in nationwide e-commerce. Additionally, a lack of parking funding in city areas, as well as various municipal mandates, have made the problem as severe as ever.
Hopefully, shipper solutions, technology-based methods, and private and public investments will help to ease the issue, some industry experts say.
“It is one of these issues that is going to be right there in our [faces] until we make a truly concerted effort to do something,” said senior vice president of the American Transportation Research Institute, Dan Murray. “There are no short-term solutions to fix it.”
Parking concerns worsen the closer a trucker is to a densely-populated, urban region, noted president of C.R. England, Brandon Harrison, as these areas see the most freight traffic.
“Late afternoon and evening hours continue to be some of the most challenging times for drivers to find parking availability,” he said.
The steep incline in e-commerce is pushing demand towards larger cities, which has exacerbated parking capacity issues–as has land costs and zoning restrictions, said ATRI research associate, Alexandra Shirk. States have continued to end up “on the other side of the fence when it comes to fighting or enhancing the truck parking opportunities,” added Murray.
The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance’s director of enforcement programs, William Elovirta, also chimed in, noting that urban planning development has begun focusing on parking space reduction in recent years.
“I don’t think we’re seeing a huge effort on the local and state [levels] for an organized push for truck parking in the same sense of the other priorities,” he explained.
Many industry members have been lamenting the idea that even though both the public and the government see the need to improve the nation’s bridges and roads, truck parking is often overlooked. The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act initially allocated $1 billion toward parking funding, but the funding was ultimately dropped from the measure. Once the legislation officially passed, truck parking funding was not included.
“There is discretionary funding available that can be put toward trucking parking solutions,” added Shirk, who notes that it now seems parking funding is in competition with that of bridge and road projects.
The state of Minnesota expects around a 30% increase in federal funding from the infrastructure bill, and the Minnesota Trucking Association is currently advocating for funds to finally be allocated to truck parking capability, said the association’s president, John Hausladen.
“We’re hopeful that at least there is a pool to work with, but the fact that truck parking was not designated in any of those funds means it continues to battle with every other need,” he explained.
Additionally, cities like Minneapolis have been banning parking in residential streets, which can make matters even worse than they already are, Hasladen added.
“As a highly populated urban center, there isn’t a lot of available land to just create truck parking without some sort of incentives or government support that move it forward,” he said.
The trucking industry has actually begun looking toward private and public parking options alike, noted ATRI’s Murray.
“In a perfect world, we’d have perfect collaboration where the public sector helps the private sector expand capacity and manage capacity,” he noted.
Individual states should also start looking into methods of lowering private sector costs in regards to expanding or building designated truck parking areas–this may include land acquisition, maintenance assistance, or specific tax incentives, according to Tiffany Wlazlowski Neuman, the vice president of public affairs at truck and travel stop industry-representing trade association, Natso.
Natso also recommends that regulators begin actively exploring the potential effects of any new legislation on truck parking, such as the ELD mandate, which brought major changes to when truckers drive and when they park, as well as to the overall utilization of available truck parking.