Every truck driver has their favorite truck stops, whether they prefer independent truck stops or national brands. TravelCenters of America, aka TA, is also known as TA and Petro Shopping Centers. That’s because Petro Stopping Centers is the brand that owns TravelCenters of America. TA was originally named Truckstops of America, thus the TA in the name. TA as a chain was established in 1972, and has since been owned by the Ryder Corporation, Standard Oil of Ohio, BP, The Clipper Group and most recently the National Auto Truck Stops chain. The latest owner was the one to change TA to TravelCenters of America. Now that you understand the name of the truck stop brand, let’s look at the reasons truckers either love or hate TAs.
Location, Location, Location
The biggest benefit to the TA brand is that you can find one in most every city in the nation, thanks to 255 locations. There’s even a TA in Ontario, Canada. In the US the states it’s easier to list the states where TA truck stops don’t have a location:
- South Dakota
- Washington DC
If you are a truck driver with a preference of truck stop loyalty, TA makes it easy to find a truck stop with their logo.
Out of Date Facilities
While there are hundreds of TravelCenters of America, that doesn’t mean they are all top notch truck stops. One major issue with TA truck stops is that some of the locations are in need of an overhaul. In line with the lack of newer truck stops, TA’s don’t provide some of the latest perks of their competitors. For example, while Petro truck stops, which are owned by the same brand as TA, have StayFit fitness centers and walking trails, these amenities are not offered at TA truck stops. Also, while the Petro truck stops have highly recommended truck stop restaurants, TA offers only decent truck stop dining opportunities.
- One positive note about the facilities is that the repair shops at TA’s are well maintained, providing truck drivers with RoadSquad, which is the largest roadside provider of emergency trucker services in the nation.
Getting Your Grub On
Speaking of truck stop restaurants, Country Pride Restaurants are the mainstay of TA truck stops. These sit-down restaurants are located at 90 of the TA locations. Reviews of Country Pride Restaurants are middle of the road, mainly due to the out of date facilities.
Country Pride Restaurants do offer salad bars, and the chain features a StayFit option on the menu that includes sugar-free syrup and cholesterol-free egg substitute on request. Unfortunately there are only five such options on the menu, ranging from egg substitute and dry wheat toast to chopped steak and eggs, the latter of which comes with plenty of sodium and fat thanks to the chopped steak and crispy hash browns.
Meanwhile the partnering Petro offers one of the best sit-down restaurants of any truck stop—the Iron Skillet. You have to ask why there hasn’t been a takeover of the more popular Iron Skillet chain in all of the TA truck stops.
Rewarding Truck Drivers
Another perk of TA truck stops is that you can sign up and reap the benefits of sticking with this chain. TA has three different card options. You can choose between:
- UltraONE Professional Driver
- UltraONE Expediter
- UltraONE Coach
Each of these three cards are noted as the UltraONE card, with UltraONE Professional Driver being the card for most truck drivers. Once you have accumulated 20,000 UltraONE points in a year, you get upgraded to the UltraONE Platinum card, which offers an increase in benefits and perks. Keep in mind that you can only have one card as a TA member in which to receive benefits. However, your UltraONE card will be fully functional at TA truck stops and Petro truck stops. Therefore you increase your opportunities to earn rewards. You can earn points on fuel and truck repair center purchases, which can be spent on complimentary showers, fax use, check cashing and beverages, as well as birthday treats and preferred parking.
The use of UltraONE can help you save money as a truck driver as showers can cost anywhere from $7 to $10 at a time. You can also use your rewards to pay for cups of coffee, snacks, truck accessories, or other in-store purchases. As truck stop purchases can easily eat up your budget, truck stop rewards will help you spend less from coast to coast. Whether you are an owner operator, independent driver or company truck driver, you will be able to benefit from truck stop reward programs, such as UltraONE at TA and Petro.
If you are looking for a national brand to provide you with easy access to the same truck stops across the nation, TA offers that convenience. However, if you are concerned with finding the newest amenities and truck stop perks, such as truck driver chiropractors, spas or movie cinemas, then the TA isn’t going to be up to par.