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How important are service centres to your job?

BOWMANVILLE, Ont. -Both travellers and truckers weary of the mass closures of service centres across Hwy 401 in Ontario were relieved (perhaps literally) to find seven new locations open as of Oct. 1....


BOWMANVILLE, Ont. -Both travellers and truckers weary of the mass closures of service centres across Hwy 401 in Ontario were relieved (perhaps literally) to find seven new locations open as of Oct. 1. The event marked the end of Phase 1 of the months-long project that will see the redevelopment of 23 service centres across Highways 401 and 400.

But according to frequent Truck West contributor and truck driver, Harry Rudolfs, the remodelling process has been a “debacle” from the start, with many truckers struggling to find a place to pull over in the initial months of the project, and according to Rudolfs’ recent survey of some of the new locations, not much has changed (Ontario rest stops still a joke, www.trucknews.com).

So just how important are adequate service centres to truck drivers? We went to the Fifth Wheel Truck Stop in Bowmanville, Ont. to find out.

Gerry Weeks, a driver with Allied Systems out of Lambeth, Ont., said the sheer size of big rigs makes service centres vital to a trucker’s day.

“There is no place to put these things off the road. You can’t just get them in anywhere, so safety is the biggest thing,” he told Truck West.

“Our stops are a lot less frequent (since the redevelopment project began) because there is nowhere to pull over. You run four to five hours steady and you can’t get anywhere to pull over. Cars are in the same boat; they are looking for fuels stops and stuff like that. Some of the service centres put fuel up, but there is nothing set up for that now.”

John Webster, a driver with ATS out of Brockville, Ont., says that when it comes to service centres, “For us guys, it is nice to have them to pull in and grab a coffee; take a quick break and then back out again.”

While he says that adding more parking to existing centres would be a bonus, he also noted that he had been by the new stop in Trenton the day of the interview and admitted that he liked it.

Jennifer Salam, a driver for Wilburn Archer Trucking in Norwood, Ont., said that with the recent changes to logbooks, service centres have become more important than ever for truckers.

“When we are tired, we need a place to pull over, and there are not a whole lot of truck stops, and a whole lot of towns don’t like us there,” she says. “You have got a lot more tired truck drivers on the road now with that 14-hour rule that came in -a lot more. I will still have room on my log to go and I might be tired, but there is no place to stop.”

Her suggestion for a rest stop feature for the redesigns? A drive-thru Tim Hortons for trucks.

Manford Wiltman, an owner/ operator with Echo, calls service centres “absolutely necessary” for truckers, noting that, “(we) need a place to rest and shower, even a motel.”

In light of the lack of rest stops over the past few months, Wiltman has resorted to using his GPS to find parking lots from some of the bigger chains like Wal-Mart or Home Depot instead.

Wiltman’s plans for an ideal service centre would include a swimming pool and sauna “so you can relax your muscles.” Next time they’re planning a redesign, maybe they should give Salam and Wiltman a call.


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