Hoosier transportation companies hit hard by high gas prices

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In addition to high fuel prices, an operator faces labor shortages and high vehicle prices.

INDIANAPOLIS — Gasoline prices continue to climb and weigh on those who make a living behind the wheel.

“It’s something beyond our control,” said Denny Leinhos, owner of State-of-the-art limousines and coaches.

Leinhos has owned the Carmel company for 11 years and said demand is extremely high at the moment.

“I’m busier now than I’ve ever been before, even before COVID,” he said.

Even though customers are back, Leinhos faces another hurdle: fuel prices.

“Today there are about eight exits, so my fuel cards will see the gas pump eight times today,” he said.

Leinhos took 13News with him to the nearby gas station to refuel one of his biggest buses. To no one’s surprise, it wasn’t cheap.

“It’s about $175,” he said.

Leinhos said it wasn’t even his most expensive bus.

“My biggest bus is a 56-passenger MCI. It gets six miles per gallon. It’s a 250 gallon fuel tank. Right now in today’s market when I fill up it costs me $1,400, he said.

To help offset the cost, Leinhos recently added a fuel surcharge to the bill. It’s something he didn’t want to do, but he said it was the only way to make his business work.

Additionally, the credit limit on his company’s gas cards continues to increase to accommodate higher prices.

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“My credit limit has been increased twice in the last 30 days because the price of fuel has gone up so much,” he said.

Leinhos also faces a labor shortage and high vehicle prices.

“Unfortunately, it’s a domino effect for everyone,” he said.

Leinhos is not alone. Other Hoosiers who rely on fuel for a living say it’s frustrating.

Samantha Aulick was a driver for Uber in Indianapolis but quit after being unable to turn a profit due to rising gas prices. She said the added surcharges weren’t helping.

Now she drives people independently and offers rides to and from the airport.

“I could go out and take a trip and do what I did doing Uber,” Aulick said.

Even without the extra charge, she still feels the pain at the pump.

“I charge $100 for a round trip and thought maybe I should increase it if the gas keeps going up,” she said.

It’s an added frustration that is simply beyond the drivers control.

“Just another day doing business,” Leinhos said.

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