The Province of Ontario has recently undertaken 2 studies, that in part, look at the issue of parking for travellers, and more specifically, Commercial Motor Vehicles. One of these studies, the Southern Ontario Rest Stop Study, is currently underway. The MTO has commissioned SPR Associates to engage stakeholders in consultations that will help the MTO to identify areas of need for parking and what type of facilities are needed in these areas. There were three in person stakeholder meetings held in October in Ottawa, Toronto and London, and a survey of Truck Drivers is currently underway. The input of the drivers is a key area of this study, so ensure that your view is heard by going to
The other study, the Northern Ontario Multimodal Transportation Strategy, commissioned jointly by the Ontario Ministry of Transportation and the Ministry of Northern Development of Mines, was an all encompassing Multi Modal Transportation Strategy for the next 25 years. This involved many stakeholder meetings and consultations over a 2-year period, and produced a draft that was recently open for comment and closed on September 15th. I only mention this as I do not want to sell the NOMTS draft short, however for the purposes of this article, I am only going to concentrate on the Industries need for safe and secure parking.
The NOMTS study identified many needs, one of them, not surprisingly, was the lack of sufficient parking for CMV’s. In the short term it identified three seasonal rest areas in Northern Ontario to invest in to ensure year-round access for passenger and commercial vehicle access. On this approach, I commend them, and hope construction starts soon. This approach, in my view, is the right approach. Most operators are not looking for anything fancy. Would showers, restaurants, lounges and the sort be a dream come true for most drivers? Absolutely, however, in my view, the governments responsibility should lie with what I will call “must have’s”, not “would be nice to have’s.” Private businesses can supply the nice to have’s. A governments first responsibility should always be to protect the safety and security of its citizens, which in this case, is the motoring public. The immediate need, and one that has existed for years in this industry, right across Canada I might add, is a simple, safe and secure place to park. Provide us with a paved lot, well lit, with some animal proof garbage cans, and a building that has a bathroom complete with running water and a bit of heat and most drivers will be thrilled. It would be a big improvement over what exists in a lot of places in the country today, which is nothing. Drivers are forced to follow HOS rules and park for 10 hours a day, 8 of these consecutive, yet in many cases, drivers are forced to either park well short of their hours of service limit in order to obtain parking, run past their HOS limits while trying to find parking, or park unsafely on the side of a ramp or abandoned lot. Worse yet, they are sometimes driving while fatigued as a result of not being able to find a safe place to park. If we concentrate on trying to build areas that have everything, like restaurants and showers, we will end up supplying our drivers with facilities that will take longer to build, take more capital, and come up short on our biggest need, enough safe places to park. Some jurisdictions, such as BC, have been investing a lot of money and resources over the last few years constructing new rest area’s in locations of severe shortage, and providing simple things, in addition to the must have’s I mentioned above, such as Wi fi for drivers to be able to keep current on road conditions, and enjoy some down time. Bravo on them. Don’t get me wrong, I am glad to see studies are being commissioned, and I believe drivers and the rest of the industry should participate in them, however I am cautious in my enthusiasm….studies have come and gone in the past…a study serves no purpose what so ever unless we act upon the results of that study. The study will no doubt help governments decide where the priorities are and where to start. A lesson might be drawn from the US, where a National Coalition on Truck Parking has brought all of industry and government together to address this issue.
One thing I think we can all agree on, we have a shortage, and the time for some real action is now…