School district closely monitors fuel supply - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

School district closely monitors fuel supply

October 11, 2005

Albany-- Soaring fuel costs affect the way many school systems run their buses.

You know how expensive it is to keep gas in your car. Imagine filling up 152 vehicles with extra-large tanks. That's how many buses the Dougherty county school system keeps rolling.

The cost of diesel fuel has jumped about a dollar a gallon since last year. That has school systems throughout south Georgia keeping a closer eye on their buses.

Keeping Dougherty county school buses running is Rick Wheeler's job, a more difficult job right now because fuel prices remain high. "If we can't run these buses, we can't get the children to school, and we can't get them home," says the district's transportation manager.

A nearly 60% increase in fuel costs forced the school system to make adjustments including reducing field trips and shortening bus routes.

"Where we had two or three buses doing routes, we've brought it down to one or two," says Wheeler.

On average the transportation department fuels about fifty buses a day, costing the school district about $4,000.

Dougherty County school buses consume a total of about 1,900 gallons daily. With diesel fuel costing the district more than two dollars a gallon, the district has looked into fuel alternatives. "We look at it a lot. It's being tested all over. We go to meetings every summer and discuss it," he says.

Wheeler has met with bus drivers to offer them tips for conserving fuel. "When they do a pre-trip in the morning and crank the bus up, they don't leave the buses running at school no more than they have to," he says.

Wheeler says the district will continue to look for ways to save money. "We can't control the prices, but we can do everything we can to control the consumption," he says.

Right now the system is fully stocked in diesel fuel and so far hasn't run into any major problems with its fuel supply.

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