Gas supply chain issues continue to impact Summit County reserve
One local shuttle company is starting to fuel up outside the community
As tourist visitation increases and social calendars fill up, gas supply remains delayed in Summit County due to driver shortages and high demand. The issue is impacting both gas stations and businesses alike.
Skyler McKinley, a spokesperson with AAA Colorado, said these issues will likely last the rest of summer, or even the rest of the year. In the meantime, local suppliers like City Market in Dillon are struggling to meet demand.
“This continues to be an industry issue with multiple factors contributing to delays in replenishing fuel supply including carrier capacity issues and road closures,” Jessica Trowbridge, spokesperson for King Soopers and City Market, wrote in an email. “We continue to work with our suppliers to resolve the issue and apologize for the inconvenience.”
On Saturday, July 17, all of the pumps at City Market and Shell in Dillon and Exxon and Sinclair in Silverthorne had both regular and premium gas available, but both the Kum & Go and Circle K stations in Frisco had a few pumps that were out of service.
Other businesses, such as local shuttle operators, are identifying ways around the issue. Owner of Peak 1 Express Duke Bradford said he’s instructed his drivers to fuel up outside the county for the past three weeks.
“We’ve had to sort of pivot and start filling up in Denver along the way,” Bradford said. “We travel predominantly from (Denver International Airport) there and back, so we’ve had to adjust. And when we’ve run short of fuel at our usual stops, we’ve had to then tell our drivers to drop off your guests and get gas before you get the next guests.”
Bradford said he usually has anywhere from eight to 12 shuttles traveling to and from the airport, and it usually takes one or two fuel trips to keep them running throughout the day. Bradford said drivers would fill up when they needed gas before these issues started, but now they top off whenever they can.
Bradford said it costs about $80 right now to fill up one shuttle. His drivers frequently visit the 7-Eleven in Breckenridge because of its proximity to the company’s depot.
Though working around the gas supply chain issues has been challenging, Bradford said he’s happy to be running at all since these issues are nothing like what his business went through at the beginning of the pandemic.
“To be honest, it is a challenge, but frankly we’re just excited to be open,” Bradford said. “If you think of the transportation business a year ago, we were under heavy regulation and it was a stressful time. So in the scope of things, yes, this is a challenge, but it’s not near the challenges we faced over the last year. We’ll get through it.”
As for how the gas supply chain is impacting Summit County’s fleet of vehicles, Chris Lubbers, transit director for the Summit Stage, said the issue hasn’t yet presented a problem.
“Regarding gasoline shortages, we have not experienced any difficulty,” Lubbers wrote in an email. “Our fuel usage consists of diesel fuel and electricity for the most part which is delivered through commercial contracts.”
Many local gas stations were out of regular or premium gas during and after the Fourth of July weekend. McKinley said this wasn’t a gas shortage, but rather issues related to the crude oil supply chain.
“Why I make that distinction between a shortage and what’s going on is that if you ask folks in Summit County, there was a brief period where there were intermittent outages and then fuel came and everybody was able to fill up on a pretty reasonable timeline and this was not a sustained, monthslong problem whereby Summit County drivers weren’t able to get fuel,” McKinley said. “Fundamentally, there’s a delay in the system because we rely on labor to get gas and refined oil products that last mile. Everything is flowing and getting where it needs to go, but from that point of distribution to the service stations, there are some hiccups.”
McKinley said many drivers chose to leave the industry altogether when the demand for gas dropped early last year. Now companies are focused on rehiring and training new employees, which will likely take a few months at least.
McKinley said tourists and community members can expect these issues to last at least the rest of the summer, if not the rest of the year.
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