Spiraling gas prices force US schoolchildren to hoof it

WASHINGTON, June 25, 2008 (AFP) – US school children will face longer walks to the bus stop, longer days and shorter weeks at school, while university students are pushed to take online courses, all thanks to relentless spiraling fuel prices.

Several counties in the central-eastern state of Maryland are considering giving their yellow school buses shorter routes to save gas, widening the minimum pick-up radius from the standard one mile (1.6 kilometers) for primary schoolchildren and two miles (3.2 kilometers) for high schoolers.

“Gas is very expensive, they want have something in place that would allow the superintendent to react, to make adjustments to those distances and bus routes, if necessary, if gas become even more expensive,” said Montgomery County Public School spokesman Chris Cram.

The minimum pickup distances have remained unchanged for 12 years, and Cram refused to estimate by how much they would increase should authorities adopt the measure.

However, he was forthcoming about fuel consumption, saying the county had based its 2007/2008 school year fuel budget for its 1,274 school buses on an average price of 2.74 dollars per gallon (3.78 liters), when it has already shot past 4.0 dollars.

That means that in