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Rising gas prices causing school bus expenses to skyrocket

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Posted at 8:21 PM, Mar 23, 2022

POWAY, Calif. (KGTV) — Every day, thousands of San Diego county students depend on school buses for transportation.

The soaring price of gas is forcing some districts to pay tens of thousands of dollars more in fuel costs.

"A school bus can take anywhere from 80 to 200 gallons to fuel," said Tim Purvis, the Transportation Director for Poway Unified School District.

On top of dealing with a severe bus driver shortage, Purvis said keeping buses running has become another challenge.

"This is by far the worst fuel crisis we've seen in our price structure at a rapid increase," he said.

The district runs around 120 of its 155 school buses daily. Most of the fleet is diesel-operated. The district said the price of diesel per gallon for school buses, as of March 21, is $4.12. The price was $2.90 in December.

"Diesel prices are up about 71 percent than what we normally pay," Purvis said.

Purvis said the department typically reserves 10% of its budget for economic "uncertainty" expenses. However, he said they're having to increase that amount by $110,000 to keep up with fuel costs through the end of the school year.

The district also has eight electric buses and plans to add 20 more in May.

But Purvis said it'll be several weeks before the first eight are up and running.

"We believe that if we had all 28 [electric] buses running right now we could offset our fossil fuel need by about 15, 20 percent," Purvis said.

He added the district is still hiring full-time bus drivers and substitute bus drivers. For more information, click here.