The price of fueling up 300 school buses

The price of fueling up 300 school buses »Play Video
TRI-CITIES, Wash. - As gas prices rise for all of us, KEPR is looking at the cost of keeping the wheels on the bus going round and round.

Thousands of your taxpayer dollars are spent each month to keep school buses on the road.

Every chug of the engine means more money drips out of fuel budgets. Tri-Cities schools budget for roughly 300 buses at about 100 gallons each.

"You gotta have it, you try to plan for it and you know, you look at what your averages are over the year," said Dave Conrad, Transportation Director for Richland Schools.

Each school district has its budget set for the year, though none has a locked in rate. They buy on the free market like the rest of us.

Pasco has the highest budget of the big three districts, 1.5 million is spent on fuel alone. That's up a half million from last year but they're pacing on budget. Pasco School District covers the largest area with the most buses.

Richland's budget increased slightly. It spends about half million in all to power buses. They do, however, also track a separate budget for BFT passes purchased for some students.

At 65 thousand this year, they are already over budget for the passes, but pacing on budget for the fuel.

Trying to guess the cost of fuel when doing those budgets is near impossible. Diesel has been pacing more than four bucks a gallon for a while.

Dave said, "If we were to have a tank here on-site and could order a truck load to come in and fill the tank then you know we would have a set price for that amount of fuel but the next time could be different."

That plan isn't an option. Safety and cost are an issue.

Though with how the buses are used it wouldn't be a bad idea.
Pasco buses alone total more than a million miles on the road each school year.

Not every kid can take the bus. Those that live about a mile away from where they go to school are asked to walk. There are some special circumstances like here in Richland. If a route is unsafe or poses any danger to kids, the district will transport them.

That comes at the district's expense. They manage to stretch dwindling funds to keep student safety the top priority.

KEPR did check in with the Kennewick School District. Their figures were not available today.