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Increased Gas Prices Affect Transit Companies

With retail gas prices reaching more than $3.00 per gallon, consumers may be looking for alternative transportation. Public transportation companies are also feeling the tug in their budgets. Bloomington Transit has moved in recent years to hybrid bus technology, but 32 of its 38 buses still run on petroleum, meaning the company is subject to spikes in gas prices.

Lewis May, General Manager of the Bloomington Transit, said it’s difficult to prepare the budget if gas prices continue to increase. “It is a double edge sword for public transportation while we enjoy the benefit of having additional riders using public transportation, at the same time we’re paying higher prices ourselves for fuel. It's bitter sweet in that respect. It makes it harder for us to provide new services to meet the greater demand for public transportation.”

The partnership between IU’s bus service and Bloomington Transit is the second largest public transportation system in the state. The two systems also partner to lock in fuel prices -- especially when they’re expected to rise, as in the coming year.

“We do partner with Indiana University campus, by purchasing our fuel together, and we currently are in a fixed price fuel contract for the next three months,” said May. He also said it allows for price certainty when planning the budget.

May also noted each of the company’s six hybrid buses uses 25% less fuel than their diesel counterparts.

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