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Hoosiers who make a living behind the wheel hit hard by gas prices

Besides high fuel prices, one operator is dealing with a worker shortage and high vehicle prices.

INDIANAPOLIS — Gas prices continue to climb and are taking a toll on those who make a living behind the wheel. 

“It’s an element out of our control,” said Denny Leinhos, owner of Avant Garde Limousines & Coaches.

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

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

Even though customers are back, Leinhos is running into a different roadblock: fuel prices. 

“Today there are about eight runs going out, 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 fill up one of his larger buses. To no one's surprise, it wasn’t cheap.  

“It’s about $175,” he said.  

Leinhos said that’s not even his most expensive bus.  

“My largest 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 fuel 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 said it’s the only way to keep his business going.  

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

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“I’ve had my credit limit raised twice within the last 30 days because the price of fuel is surging so high,” he said.  

Leinhos is also dealing with a worker 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 to make a living say it’s frustrating.  

Samantha Aulick used to be a driver for Uber in Indianapolis, but quit after she couldn’t make a profit amid rising gas prices. She said the surcharges added in weren’t helping.   

Now, she’s driving people independently and offering rides to and from the airport.    

“I could go out and do one trip and make what I made doing Uber,” Aulick said.  

Even without the added fees, she’s still feeling the pain at the pump. 

“I charge $100 for a round trip and I’ve been thinking I might need to increase it if gas continues to go up,” she said. 

It’s an added frustration that’s simply out of drivers' control. 

“Just another day doing business,” Leinhos said. 

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