High fuel prices hurting some more than others

So you think you drive a gas guzzler?

Try getting behind the wheel of a garbage truck, a stretch limo, a postal service truck, a school bus or a fire truck.

The cost of fuel at the pump has most Lawrence motorists groaning, and for big fleet operators or drivers of service vehicles, every incremental increase in price per gallon can mean barrels of dollars.

For example, when the cost of a gallon of gasoline goes up by a penny, it costs the U.S. Postal Service an extra million dollars a day, according to postal authorities.

The Lawrence post offices have 77 delivery vehicles.

“We try to be careful when we assign carriers additional work that they’re not driving all over town to do it,” says Judy Raney, Lawrence postmaster. “We try to be real aware of the distance they need to travel to do things because … we know that every mile costs.”

The city’s newest garbage trucks are powered by Mercedes engines, a plus, officials said, because they are relatively fuel efficient.

“Even though it sounds expensive (to drive a Mercedes) … it gets a few tenths of a gallon better fuel economy,” than other trucks, said Steve Stewart, central maintenance garage manager for the city of Lawrence. “That adds up when you stop and think about how much fuel we use per year. It adds up.”

Read on to learn just how much these fuel hogs swallow.

And for contrast, learn a little about a high-tech bicycle that you don’t even need to pedal.

Garbage truck No. 455

Make: Sterling
Model: LT9513
Year: 2004
Engine: Six-cylinder, 781-cubic-inch Mercedes MBE 4000, with Allison automatic transmission
Tank: 50 gallons
Fuel: Diesel
Mileage: 2.854 miles per gallon, using 1,885 gallons to travel 5,379 miles so far this year

Its not great mileage, but its

12-passenger limousine

Make and model: Stretch Lincoln Towncar
Year: 2002
Engine: 4.6 liter V8
Tank: 19 gallons
Fuel: Mid-grade gas
Miles per gallon: 13
Refuel: Filled tank three times last week
Spent: 4.68 last week


U.S. Postal Service LLV (Long Life Vehicle)

Make: Bodies were manufactured by Grumman, chassis by General Motors
Model: The GM chassis was based on the S-10 pick-up truck
Engine size: The first five years of production have 2.5-liter engines and the last two years have 2.2-liter engines
Tank size: About 11 gallons
Type of fuel: Unleaded regular
Miles per gallon: About 10
Refueled: Typically twice a week
Miles driven monthly: An average LLV travels 90 miles weekly, 360 miles a month.
Note of interest: At 200,000, the U.S. Postal Service has the largest fleet of civilian vehicles in the country, says Richard Watkins, a spokesman for the Postal Service's Kansas City-based Mid-America District. When the cost of a gallon of gasoline goes up by a penny, it costs the Postal Service an extra million dollars a day, he says. The Lawrence post offices have 77 delivery vehicles.

Electric-powered bike

Make: WaveCrest
Model: TidalForce
Description: Resembles a 10-speed bicycle but with electric motor to provide an alternative to gasoline-powered vehicles. Engine mounted in rear wheel hub. Riders can increase motor power to ease work.
Engine: 1,000-watt motor
Fuel type: Electrically powered by hydride batteries
Refueled: Typically takes four hours to charge dead battery
Miles per gallon: Can travel 20 miles at 12 mph or 30 miles at 6 mph
Cost: About ,000 to purchase bike, batteries and charging equipment