Chesapeake schools feel the impact at the pump

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Posted at 2:54 PM, Mar 09, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-09 19:20:37-05

CHESAPEAKE, Va. - If you see a school bus pull up next to you at a gas station in Chesapeake, they’re just filling the tank like everyone else.

The school system is not shielded from high gas prices, as nearly 560 buses are diesel and fill up just like any consumer.

Director of Student Transportation David Benson told News 3 the department is looking at ways they can adjust their budget for the elevated gas prices. He said they have an annual budget of around $2 million for fuel. He said they create a cushion in the budget for unforeseen circumstances, but if prices continue to rise, they will have to pull money from other areas.

Regardless, he said, service will not be impacted.

“These yellow buses are going to keep rolling every day that school is in place, regardless of what the price does, because we’ve got to get the kids to school,” Benson said.

He said they average between 800,000-900,000 gallons of fuel a year, so if the price has increased by $1 a gallon, they are also feeling the pain at the pump.

One entity in Chesapeake is not feeling the pain, however, and that is the city.

Fleet manager George Hrichak said the city operates off a fixed price for regular fuel. He said half of their budget is fixed at $1.94, and the other half is a spot market price, which is $3.43 as of Wednesday.

Hrichak said they are always looking for ways to save the taxpayers money.

“We are the only fleet in the state that uses compressed natural gas, E85, propane, electric, hybrid, gas and diesel vehicles,” Hrichak said.

The fleet is comprised of 1,500 vehicles that travel a combined one million miles a month.

“We are responsible for the police, the fire, the sheriff, solid waste, everything else in the city. We have to make sure they’re available to meet the needs of the citizens,” Hrichak said.

Related: Schools across Virginia receive $1.5M in federal funding for electric, cleaner buses