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Quesnel School District seeks to reduce school bus idling as gas prices soar

Expenses for the diesel-run school bus fleet have increased
The Quesnel School District has a fleet of approximately 30 school buses, 25 of which are on the road daily said secretary-treasurer Jennifer Woollends. (Rebecca Dyok photo — Quesnel Cariboo Observer)

School District 28 is also feeling the pinch of rising gas prices.

Around 25 buses are on the road daily, transporting young learners to and from schools in Quesnel and outlying communities.

Each year the district spends thousands of dollars on fuel which has recently soared.

As of Wednesday, April 27, gas prices in Quesnel averaged out at $1.92 per litre, according to fuel price website

SD28 secretary-treasurer Jennifer Woollends said the district is seeing a 25 to 30 per cent increase in its fuel costs.

“We are utilizing budget that we were unable to spend in other areas to cover the increase in our budget costs,” she said, adding the district has budgeted $250,000 this year for diesel.

The school bus fleet is diesel-operated.

Read More: B.C. gas prices top $2 per litre as Russian invasion sends crude oil surging

In a March 2022 finance committee report, SD28 transportation manager Trevor Howe noted fuel prices had increased significantly.

“In an effort to reduce fuel consumption, we are having the drivers attempt turning off the buses in the school bus lanes when they are there for longer than three minutes,” Howe wrote.

“We will be starting this as the weather warms up.”

Last spring, B.C.’s Ministry of Education announced the province’s first fleet of electric school buses. It said 13 school districts had purchased 18 electric buses that would be operating in communities by the end of the 2020/2021 school year.

Premier John Horgan hailed the shifting of gears from diesel to electric as “helping build a cleaner, healthier future” by producing zero emissions.

“We are looking at whether that is something that can be brought into the district in the future—all districts in the province are being asked to look at as an option,” Woollends said.

“There are no buses in the north yet that are electric we’re aware of.”

With the rising costs of fuel showing no sign of slowing down, Woollends maintained the district’s goal is to make sure students can get to school and said they would do everything they can to ensure that.

Read More: B.C. to provide $110 one-time rebate to relieve high gas prices

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