WALLED LAKE, Mich. — At its back-to-school meeting last year, Walled Lake Consolidated School District’s transportation department implemented a fuel incentive program that has increased its miles-per-gallon average, reduced bus idling and facilitated substantial cost savings.
Tim Stage, the department’s head mechanic, had calculated each school bus driver’s miles-per-gallon average for the last two months of the previous school year. The drivers were told during the meeting that he would also calculate their averages for the first two months of the upcoming school year.
“Tim calculated their averages in May and June first so that the drivers wouldn’t come in at the beginning of the school year and try to, by accelerating quickly, braking hard, etc., get their averages up,” explained Jill Segal, the district’s transportation supervisor.
Once it was determined that the drivers were achieving the same rates for the two time periods, the goal was for them to improve their averages by adhering to the district’s idling policy. The two drivers — one who operates a regular-ed bus and another who operates a special-needs bus — who improved their averages the most by the end of each month were allowed to park their buses in the department’s garage for the entirety of the following month while they were not on routes.
Stage used FleetVision by Tyler Technologies Inc. to assist in calculating each driver’s monthly average.
“Each time the buses fuel up, the mileage is recorded, so I write a report at the end of the month and it indicates the miles per gallon for each bus,” he explained.
Segal said that in determining the special-needs driver winners, the department took into consideration that the drivers may have idled their buses longer to accommodate the students’ needs during loading and unloading.
The program was implemented to help enforce the district’s idling policy and to offset rising fuel costs.
“Over the entire year, we averaged an increase from 7 miles per gallon to 7.5,” Segal revealed. “Using our price-per-gallon average for fuel last year, it ended up being a savings of about $28,000.”
Based on the program’s success, the department planned to run it again during the 2009-10 school year.