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How would you redesign Ontario’s rest stops?

BOWMANVILLE, Ont. - In Joanne Ritchie's monthly column in the January issue of Truck News, the executive director of the Owner-Operators' Business Association of Canada touched on the marked lack of r...





BOWMANVILLE, Ont. – In Joanne Ritchie’s monthly column in the January issue of Truck News, the executive director of the Owner-Operators’ Business Association of Canada touched on the marked lack of rest stop parking for truckers in Canada. She claimed that miles of wilderness with no facilities, no food and not even a paved shoulder is not only frustrating for drivers, but dangerous. While the addition of new rest stops is still up in air, the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure Ontario have teamed up to remodel and improve the province’s existing rest stops. The remodelling initiative will eventually shut down all 23 of the 400-series service centres, and hopefully, at least from a truck driver’s perspective, relegate each of the sites’ deficiencies (For the full story read the March 2008 issue of Truck News). But will they meet the standards of your average trucker? Truck News stopped by the Fifth Wheel Truck Stop in Bowmanville, Ont. see how drivers would improve Ontario’s rest stops if they were in charge of the blueprints.

Glen Dale, a driver with Jimmy Tucker Trucking out of Broken Bow, Okla., says that lack of truck parking is the number one problem at rest stops in both Canada and the US.

The driver of 28 years says that while most truck stops have adequate parking, rest areas often come up short.

He notes that in the US there are some rest stops with enough parking for 100 trucks and more sites like that would help the situation. •

Henry Bueckert, a driver with Landstar out of Jacksonville, Fla., agrees with Dale and says more parking for trucks would be at the top of his wish list. Aside from that, Bueckert says that food choices at rest stop restaurants are few and far between, even though he admits they’re starting to get a little bit healthier.

“As a truck driver you can’t put the truck anywhere else (beside truck and rest stops) otherwise I would probably go to different restaurants.”

Bueckhert also says that it would be beneficial if Wi-Fi Internet access was more widely available across the province’s rest stops.

Marvin Kelly, a driver with XTL Transport in Toronto, Ont., again cites parking as the number one issue for Ontario’s rest stops.

He says 25-50 spots just isn’t enough will all the traffic out there and numbers will need to climb closer to 100 for these new and improved service centres to be a hit with drivers. Having vending machines for coffee and snacks, as well as adequate restrooms also rank highly on Kelly’s list.

Bill Meehan, an owner/operator with 38 years experience, says Canada is way behind its US counterparts when it comes to rest stops. He told Truck News that in states like Ohio and New Jersey, shower facilities, driver rooms, driver facilities and parking have all been vastly improved upon. Some stops have parking lots so big that they offer a shuttle from the furthest points, he said.

“If they’re going to shut us down for 12 hours, 15 hours we need parking,” Meehan says. “You go across Canada and our highway systems for trucks are not quite the best and our rest areas are garbage. They’re antiquated back to the 1950s.”

That said, Meehan notes that Ontario and Quebec are the only provinces that have pull-over service areas, while provinces like New Brunswick and Nova Scotia are sorely lacking.

“It’s not just an Ontario thing, it’s a Canadian thing and they need to make it a Canadian thing.”


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