Fuel for Thought
Can I Get A Shower?
Getting clean, hot shower on the road can be challenging at times. A decent truck stop with showers might be too far out of route. If you find one, there might not be anywhere to park, even just to run inside for a shower, or there might be a long line of drivers ahead of you waiting for a shower. Then if you do find parking, there are more issues to consider.
- Do you have shower credits available at this truck stop ?
- Do you have enough loyalty points to pay for one ?
- Can you can buy enough fuel to earn a shower credit ?
- Do you just plunk down the ever increasing amount of cash to just pay for one ?
For many years, shower credits were given to drivers via their loyalty cards for a minimum purchase of 50 gallons of diesel. One problem with that was/is that 100 gallons of diesel purchased did not give you 2 shower credits, leaving you with a choice. Do I purchase more than 50 gallons to fill up or do I just get 50.1 gallons and then purchase another 50.1 gallons of diesel and get the credit for each purchase?
Well, TA/ Petro has recently come up with a new system. Purchase 60 gallons of diesel and you get 1 shower credit, an increase from the usual 50 gallons, but, at least until August 30, 2017, if you purchase 120 gallons of diesel fuel, you will get 2 shower credits. Along with this change comes another caveat, the cash price will now be $14 and if you choose to use your Ultra One points, it will be 1450 points for a shower. While there is an increase in the cost to get a shower credit, at least they are trying to find a balance for drivers to get their much needed showers while on the road.
Recently, Pilot/ Flying J took a different approach.Their Shower Power program changed from 500 gallons of diesel to 1000 gallons in a given month. If you purchase 1000 gallons of diesel at P/FJ within a calendar month, you will receive a shower credit for each day the rest of that month AND a shower credit for each day the following month. While this is a very good deal for some, for those of us who get better mileage, it can be a challenge (or an impossible goal) to purchase than many gallons of diesel fuel in a month's time.
One thing is for sure, truck stops are looking at the way we use showers and the requirements for getting the credits are changing.
With the newer equipment on the roads getting much better MPG than trucks of the past, is it time to find a new system of getting shower credits? As older trucks get phased out, getting benefits based on gallons of diesel fuel purchased will become a bigger issue for today’s drivers. If you routinely drive 500 miles per day, and your truck gets 10 MPG or better, you will have some difficulty in getting a shower each day if the the threshold for the the shower credit is 60 gallons. A separate reefer or APU/Generator tank can take up some of the extra gallons needed, but the more efficient you are, the less benefit you will receive from truck stops that have the amenities you desire. A system based on fuel purchases alone only encourages fuel consumption, which as an owner- operator, is the exact opposite of my goals. I want to be as efficient as possible and save my hard earned dollars. Truck stops are in the business of selling fuel and services that drivers have come to rely on over the years. Many drivers expect these services to be provided for free to us, just because we stop and spend a little(or a lot) money there. The reality is, the more efficient we are in our businesses as O/O drivers, the less the truck stops make, yet we still want all the services they provided in the past.
Given the fact that our more efficient trucks are using less fuel, what system do you see as a viable alternative to the fuel based system we currently use?
It would have to benefit both drivers and truck stops, and be an attainable way for drivers to get the services they need and truck stops would have to be able to afford to provide those services for their loyal customers.
Where is the balance?
See you down the road,