SAN MATEO, Calif. — The coronavirus pandemic has presented providers of mobile fueling with an opportunity to establish themselves as an essential service.
Recent social-media posts have highlighted the potential risk of contracting the virus when touching contaminated gas pump handles. As traditional fuel retailers step up their cleaning regimens on the forecourt, at least one mobile fueling business is presenting itself as a “contactless” alternative.
Booster Fuels, an app-enabled mobile fueling service that delivers gasoline to both consumer and business clients, operated a “pop-up contactless gas station” in the parking lot of a Target store in its hometown of San Mateo, Calif., on March 26. For three hours, Booster mini-tankers provided full-service fueling to customers who had ordered their fill-ups via a special website for its contactless gas station.
“In these sensitive times, when cleanliness and safety are paramount, Booster is providing a contactless mobile fueling alternative to the traditional gas station to help limit the spread of the coronavirus,” the company said.
With this first event, Booster plans to set up its contactless gas station in the parking lots of other essential service providers such as grocery stores and pharmacies. The next event will take place in California's Silicon Valley on March 30, at a location still to be announced. The company said it offers similar pricing to nearby gas stations.
Since Booster launched in 2015, it has delivered more than 20 million gallons of fuel to more than 350 fleet customers in 20 cities in California, Texas and Washington.
At the same time Booster is launching its contactless gas station, some areas of the country are shaping regulations to open the door to mobile fueling as their residents deal with COVID-19. In Dallas, the city council voted to amend the fire code to adopt a provision that regulates the mobile fueling on demand industry. Booster consider this “a first step” in Dallas developing a regulatory framework for mobile fueling that adheres to International Fire Code safety requirements.
"As an essential service during this public health crisis, the ordinance comes in time for Booster to support the increased demand from businesses such as first responders, logistics and courier services, food distribution and nonprofits rushing to meet the community’s needs,” said Frank Mycroft, CEO of Booster Fuels. The company considers mobile fueling as an essential service, similar to gas stations, drugstores and grocery stores, which are allowed to remain open under rules set up by many local and state governments during the coronavirus crisis.
Also in March, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee signed House Bill 2783, which standardizes fire safety requirements for mobile fueling providers who operate in the state. Booster entered Seattle, its first Northwest market, in 2019. As of March 26, Washington had more than 2,500 confirmed coronavirus cases.
“We support industry operators whose business models provide much-needed innovation while upholding important safety standards in our communities,” said Jon Napier, state code director for the Washington State Association of Fire Marshals. “Booster Fuels’ approach to on-demand mobile fuel delivery does exactly that, especially in this time of critical need.”