High Gas Prices Squeeze Service Fleets
Many fleets of service, repair and basic delivery vehicles must pass runaway fuel costs onto consumers in the form of higher rates or higher prices on goods. IESI Corp., a solid waste management company that does business in eight states, has added a floating surcharge to monthly bills to customers, according to a report in the Baxter, Arkansas Bulletin. Likewise, Baxter County and city services anticipated fuel increases in 2005 and increased funding in those line items. Recent spikes and the federal Department of Energy projected fuel prices weren't anticipated. Monday, the Baxter County Road and Bridge Department was at 25 percent of its fuel budget, placing the department on a trend that would end at 100 percent sometime in October, the report said.Opportunities to include some hybrid vehicles in the Baxter County police fleet are unlikely, the report said. In the patrol division, a high-performance car is needed. If industry projections of gasoline prices an average 20 percent higher hold true in 2005, the department will be forced to look for more fuel funds in other budget line items or to an extraordinary appropriation from the city council.Super Shuttle operates 141 vans and small buses for airport transportation in and around Washington, DC. The company’s basic prices are set by airport and state regulators. Drivers lose hundreds of dollars a week as gas prices rise. The independent contractors who drive the shuttles hope more people will get out of their cars and into shuttles to help offset increasing fuel expenditures, according to a Washington, DC NBC News affiliate. The city of Elizabethton, Tennessee said combined fuel costs for March will exceed $20,000, the highest monthly bill ever, according to a report in the Elizabethton Star. Municipal governments are exempt from state and federal taxes on motor vehicle fuel. The city received a low bid of $1.3775 for gasoline and $1.54 for diesel fuel for the month of March. That price could jump by as much as 25 cents, according to the report.The city of Elizabethton's 200-vehicle fleet consists of police cruisers, fire engines, water department vehicles, and garbage trucks.The gas pinch is also affecting public safety agencies where gasoline provides the lifeblood of response time."When people call 911 and ask for service, we have to go," said David Nichols, deputy director of the Carter County EMS. "The only thing we can do is request more assistance in getting it paid."Nichols said the only way for volunteer departments to lower fuel use and costs was to end the practice of medical assist responses for the CCRS and stop mutual aid responses to support departments around the county. But that’s not feasible, he said in the report.