Volume 93, Issue 85

Friday, March 10, 2000


NEWS

Don't bank on student loans

Faculty review gets top grades

ASA, MSA protest atrium celebration

Casinos a favourite for Canucks

McSorley opens NHL wounds

Increases make gas unsettling

Taking stock in the time that's left

Bass Ackwards

Caught on campus

Increases make gas unsettling



By Chris Lackner
Gazette Staff

With gas prices in Ontario hovering between 72 to 76 cents per litre, a large number of local companies are feeling the heat.

Susan Weskett, owner of R & S Xpress, a local courier service, said the 20 cent increase in gas prices over the last two months had forced her to raise delivery rates. "Raising delivery rates could cost me customers," she said. "The drivers are brokers – they're paid by commission. Delivery rates had to be raised because gas prices are affecting the driver's earnings."

Mike Murphy, owner of Murphy Bus Lines, had similar concerns. "The peak period for school trips is just around the corner. Gas prices are going to force us to add a surcharge for trips to places like Toronto." Gas prices are squeezing operators, he said, explaining his fuel costs have increased by almost 100 per cent in recent months.

He added gas prices also cause problems for school boards who employ operators such as his own.

Executive superintendent of business for the Thames Valley District School board, Brian Green, said bus operators could not continue to operate without help. Green explained most bus operator contracts were signed in 1995 when gas prices were only 45 cents per litre. "There was no fuel escalation clause in the contract," Green explained. "Now bus operators all across the province are hurting."

Joe Tascona, Gas Prices Review Task Force co-chair, said the task force has been travelling across the province to hear the opinions of companies, organizations and sectors affected by the high prices. Tascona explained he could not reveal any details of the report, but said school bus operators were one of the factions the task force heard from. "A full report should be made public by the end of March," he stated.

Green said he hoped the government and its task force might help bus operators, although he remained doubtful. "Here's the situation. In our district we have 720 buses on the road everyday and they rack up 15 million kilometres a year. But, if the province bails out bus operators, they'll have to bail out everybody who is affected."




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