The news that AAA of Northern California, Nevada and Utah is consolidating its services in the Bay Area, and particularly in Contra Costa County, has local business owners worried about losing customers, according to a story in the Contra Costa Times.
Walter Kohler, who owns Ron's Tow Service in Martinez, told the Times that the consolidation plan is likely to put small tow companies out of business, and will cause him to lay off employees. AAA is asking for the company who wins the bid for local service to be able to tow 7,000 cars and trucks per month. Kohler only has trucks and staff to tow that many vehicles per year, and can't afford to add the number of trucks and staff it would take to meet AAA's new requirements, he said.
Gary Hernandez, owner of , told the Martinez News Gazette that the consolidation was bleeding tax dollars out of the city, and would likely result in less efficient roadside service for customers.
Martinez Police Chief Gary Peterson sent a letter in July to AAA expressing the City Council's concerns that the consolidation plan will cause police to stay longer at accident scenes waiting for tow trucks to arrive, thus preventing them from responding to other calls. He also said that the move would likely take auto repair-related business away from Martinez.
"Under the AAA plan, it is uncertain who will provide (towing) service to the City of Martinez," Peterson told the council in a staff report. "We do know that they will not be located within our city. Consequently, the new service provider will have farther to travel, which may result in increased response times.
"The potential for increased response times is a particular concern. Increased response times would negatively impact public safety because officers cannot leave the scene of a collision until the roadway is clear, which delays our response to other service calls."
"A small number of our current contract stations will no longer be a part of our network going forward," said Cynthia Harris, senior spokesperson for AAA. "We are planning to move from about 300 stations to about 265 throughout our service territory. However, this reduction does not mean service levels will be compromised once this open and competitive bidding process is complete. There will be roughly the same number of tow trucks and drivers on the road as today. Stations with AAA contracts are expected to grow to meet the needs of our Members. Member response times will not be impacted, nor will motorist safety. We do take our relationship with our tow station network very seriously, and have been communicating with our network about these plans."