Tour Buses Survive Gas Hike

Conner Cain motor coach number 18 just completed a 1,200 mile journey. Joe Tucker drove 48 passengers from Gulfport to Jackson, Tennessee, and then back home.

"They had places to go," the bus driver said. "And they don't concern themselves with gas prices or fuel prices."

Get this. On the just completed trip to Tennessee, it cost nearly $325 to fill the 192 gallon tank on this bus.

"It probably doesn't mean anything to me," Tucker said. "But it means a lot to the company when they have six or eight buses on the road at one time buying fuel."

According to AAA, diesel fuel prices are almost 20% higher than they were a year ago.

Betty Sullivan books tour groups on her fleet of buses.

"It's affecting us," she admitted.

To make sure diesel costs don't overwhelm the company, Sullivan encourages her drivers to watch their fuel tanks very carefully.

"We have the lowest fuel prices here on the coast," she said. "And so I always instruct the drivers that when they're out of state, where the prices are higher, to only put enough to get them back here to the coast. And then we always purchase our fuel in Mississippi."

Higher fuel costs have not forced motor coach companies to park their buses. But the added costs have forced a few tour groups to limit how far they travel by bus.

Despite the higher gas prices, local casinos have not noticed a dropoff in bus business. In the last half of 2003, 12,000 motor coaches visited the casinos. That was a 20% jump over the previous year.