Rising fuel prices are driving up the operational costs of many companies and institutions in the Quinte area.
Will Barberstock, who is in charge of a fleet of Hydro One trucks, says the company is definitely feeling the effects.
“It affects how much money we can spend on repairs and that, but the hydro has to stay on, so what are you going to do?” said Barberstock.
The last six months has seen a steady increase in gas prices. According to Statistics Canada, Ontario drivers paid 10.6 per cent more in gas in November than the previous year. And prices have risen even more since then.
At the end of December 2010, the average gas price in Ontario was $1.14.5 per litre, compared to 1.05.7 cents per litre at the beginning of November. Business owners and public transportation operators say they are feeling the hit and have to find ways to deal with it.
They try to wait out the price spikes, but that’s not always possible, said Barberstock. So in the long run, gas prices need to be recouped someplace and it’s the consumer who pays.
Peter Hodgson, manager of transit services in Belleville, said so far their budget has covered the costs and they have not had to increase ticket prices because of the rising fuel cost.
“We’ve budgeted for a little bit more, just in case,” Hodgson said.
Last year the City only used 75 per cent of its $500,000 budget.
He said the City also has a contract with a fuel company which helps keep the price steady, and the price jumps less drastic.
School bus companies also face the pain, but the province absorbs their increases.
In the long run, it’s the taxpayers who have to pay, said Steve Wowk, CEO of Tri-Board, which operates the school buses locally.
As the price of fuel increases, the province increases the grants for the school transportation. Those grants come from taxpayer dollars to fund school transportation.
Trucking companies don’t have the luxury of government taking care of the bill, so they need to find other ways to compensate the increasing fuel price. Steve, a truck driver who didn’t want to give his last name, said the increase in fuel doesn’t affect him directly because the company pays the fuel. When the gas price was really high, the company he works for added a surcharge for each delivery to cover the cost. They have dropped the surcharge for the time being.
But in the long run it affects everyone, said Steve.
“One person puts it in or the other person,” said Steve in an interview outside the Ten Acre Truck Stop in Belleville. “It doesn’t matter, it’s still going to put the price of freight up. Definitely it’s going to hurt all the way around.”