Springfield truckers feeling the impact of diesel prices reaching an all-time high

Published: May. 2, 2022 at 10:43 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - Diesel prices across the U.S. are at a new all-time high.

According to AAA, the average cost of diesel fuel on Monday was $5.321 a gallon. The diesel price previously reached an all-time high fewer than two months ago.

According to GasBuddy, diesel prices are now at least $1 per gallon higher than gasoline prices, which eclipses the previous record set in November of 2008 when diesel was $0.98 more than regular gasoline.

“That’s a heck of a disparity,” said TransLand owner Mark Walker. “And we think it’s going to keep going up this week.”

TransLand is a transportation company based in Springfield that has been in Mark Walker’s family for 40 years as of 2022. Throughout the last several decades, TransLand truckers have seen a wide array of fuel prices.

“We’ve used the word unprecedented many times in the past couple of years,” Walker described. “And diesel prices are certainly in that category right now.”

The war between Russia and Ukraine is only making it more challenging.

”It’s going up faster than we can keep up with,” Walker said. “There’s a national fuel surcharge that’s connected to this, and it can’t keep up. It adjusts weekly, and that’s not fast enough to keep up with how fast diesel fuel prices are changing.”

Walker said his company buys 200,000 gallons of fuel each month.

”If prices have gone up 30% Since January 1, yeah, we’re seeing at least a 30% hike in what our fuel costs are,” he said.

TransLand operates 180 trucks. Walker said it has become even more challenging for smaller independent contractors to pay for fuel as they go. He said some small trucking businesses might only have one or two trucks.

“You’re paying for 200 gallons of fuel on your truck today at five dollars a gallon,” he described. “In a week, you’re going to have to make that $1,000 payment, but it’s going to be 30 to 60 days before your customer pays you for hauling that load for them. So the float is what’s really making it hard on everyone in the trucking business right now, but especially those who are smaller independent contractors.”

Walker said it is alarming that prices keep escalating as much as they are.

“If you are taking a look at what gasoline prices are doing and compare that to diesel, it looks like diesel is going up about two or three times faster than gasoline prices,” he said. “So that’s difficult too since all of America’s freight moves on some form of diesel transportation.”

Those prices are making a dent in the budgets of many transportation companies, but other organizations like Convoy of Hope are also experiencing the same issue.

”We’re traveling to a lot of communities across the country, and it takes a lot of diesel to get there,” said Ethan Forhetz with Convoy of Hope.

Convoy of Hope operates 30 trucks.

“Last year, Convoy of Hope trucks drove 667,000 miles,” Forhetz said. “[That’s] almost 27 times around the equator. You can do the math and figure out the cost this year would be to drive those 667,000 miles; it’s a huge increase.”

Some organizations are losing money to the growing fuel costs these days.

”I think everybody is feeling this, the pinch of gas prices, the pinch of the dollar being worthless,” Forhetz said. “It’s a squeeze on everybody right now, and it’s unpleasant. It hurts what families are able to do at home, which causes them many times to need us more.”

Forhetz said rising prices of everyday goods had increased the community’s needs.

”The need is growing,” he said. “And the cost of delivering aid to help the need is growing. So it’s not a great equation. It’s not a great equation.”

Convoy of Hope says continued communal support and donations have helped the organization carry along. Transportation companies like TransLand say drivers have also worked on adopting more fuel-efficient practices while on the road.

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