June 25, 2018 12:15 PM, EDT

TravelCenters Plans TA Express Franchises

TravelCenters of America (Hillary Hartley/Flickr)

TravelCenters of America plans to launch this summer TA Express, with smaller outlets offering quicker in-and-out service from its TA and Petro Stopping Centers.

TA Express is designed to give prospective franchises another option for working with TravelCenters. The company said it would soon announce franchise locations.

“We have a strong history with our franchise operations,” TA President Barry Richards said. “We heard from our motorists and professional drivers that they also wanted locations where they could experience TravelCenters quality in a quick-serve setting. That’s what we’re offering with TA Express.”

TravelCenters of America

The proposed gas-and-go style of TA Express fits with the company’s plans to expand its offerings for less-than-truckload drivers from its traditional focus on longhaul truckload drivers. Tonnage in the LTL segment is projected to grow to 207 million tons in 2028 from 153 million tons this year, according to American Trucking Associations.

TravelCenters seeks to grow beyond its core market of Class 8 trucks into Classes 4-7 that include private, for-hire fleets and small- to medium-size businesses, according to a March investor presentation from the Westlake, Ohio-based company. A typical TravelCenters site includes about 200 parking spots on 26 acres with showers, laundry and other amenities. A smaller site offers about 80 parking spaces on 9 to 13 acres and fewer amenities.

TA Express shops will accept the same fuel programs and payment options as other TA outlets. Professional drivers also will be able to earn and redeem points from TravelCenters’ UltraOne program.

TA already operates convenience stores that retail gasoline under the Minit Mart brand, but these generally target consumers, not professional drivers.

TravelCenters of America operates in 43 states and Canada. It has 256 full-service travel centers, 231 stand-alone convenience stores and 48 stand-alone restaurants. Besides fuel and food, many of the truck centers offer repair and maintenance, roadside emergency service and a commercial tire network.