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November 17, 2009  |   Comments (1)   |   Post a comment

District weighs options to reduce fuel costs


FORT MYERS, Fla. — As a potential avenue to cut costs, Lee County Public Schools’ finance advisory committee has asked district administration and high school calculus and trigonometry students to calculate whether running buses with less fuel in their tanks will improve fuel efficiency and save money.

District staff and students have not yet begun performing calculations, but The News-Press reports that for a bus with a 65-gallon tank, filling it with 55 gallons, for instance, would reduce the bus’ weight by 70 pounds.

Although the lighter weight could potentially improve fuel efficiency, it could also decrease operational efficiency if drivers had to pump fuel before every shift to keep their tanks at safe levels.

“You want to make sure a bus driver doesn’t have to fill it up twice a day,” Robert Morgan, transportation director for the district’s south and east attendance zones, told The News-Press.

Another cost-cutting option that the district is researching is running a school activity bus on vegetable oil. A high school senior is reportedly spearheading the pilot project.

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This could be an interesting math challenge to find a theoretical savings. However, real world savings will be zero, even on a 100 gallon fuel tank filled to 50%. The weight savings would be 300 lbs, or 3 students More weight could be shaved off the bus by allowing students to keep textbooks at school. Three hundred pounds is the same as 15 students with 20 lbs of supplies in their backpacks. A bus with 60 students would only need to save 5 lbs per student to shave off the same weight. The district could save more money by reduce the number of stops and subsequent accelerations. Providing students and parents with reasonable transportation and safety is always the double-edged sword. In times of dwindling transportation resources difficult solutions must be considered.

Martin Ward    |    Nov 18, 2009 07:19 AM

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