Company adjusts work week to help worker save money

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The U.S. Department of transportation says people have really cut back on driving due to high gas prices – and that’s hacking into federal and state funds to repair roads. At least one area employer is helping its worker be among the millions of Americans driving less. WOSU found a company in Hilliard that adjusted its workers’ hours to help them save on gas.

A worker at SunSource in Hilliard removes the piston rollers from what he calls the “internal guts” of a motor. He’s one of four hydraulic technicians who now work a ten hour day, four days a week instead of the traditional five day work week.

“What’s not to think about it? You save money, plus you get a day off through the week,” Scott Wilson said.

Wilson, from Bellefontaine, drives 112 miles round trip to work at SunSource, a company that rebuilds hydraulic pumps, motors and valves for the construction and industrial markets.

Until Wilson switched to the new work week in July he spent about $440 on gas a month. Now he said he saves about $120 of that cost.

“With the economy the way it is and raises not raising as fast as gas prices were we decided to put them on four tens,” Ed Sphar said.

That’s SunSource district manager Ed Sphar. He said the idea of switching to the four ten hour shifts came from some of the company’s clients.

“A lot of our customers do it in the wintertime. A lot of the construction companies do four tens because they get more done. So I thought well they could save gas and get more done in the same time and it would be a win-win for everyone,” he said.

And SunSource lets them choose which day they want off each week as long as everyone agrees.

“They liked it. They really liked it. Getting the three days,” Sphar said.

40 billion miles. The U.S. Department of Transportation said Americans have cut their driving by 40 billion miles so far this year. The Ohio Department of Transportation said fewer people driving means fewer dollars to fix the roads.

ODOT Director James Beasley said the state has seen as much as a two percent decline in gas tax revenues for the year. But Beasley said ODOT is committed to maintaining the state’s roads. And he expects roadway projects to stay on schedule at least for the next two years. After that, though, he said some may be delayed.

“In the long term if we don’t come up with some solutions, and we have created as task force which was called for in our business plan to look at all the various new funding mechanisms that we may be able to employ to deliver the transportation system the people of Ohio want, if those things don’t happen in the long run we will have to defer some projects,” Beasley said.

But with people driving less does that mean less wear and tear to the roadways? Beasley said no.

“Well, actually when you talk about passenger vehicles they have very little impact on the wear and tear on the roads it’s the trucking that puts most of the wear and tear on our pavements,” he said.

Beasley said trucking or freight travel is expected to increase by as much as 100 percent over the next 20 years. And he said that means more wear and tear to highway systems.

As higher gas prices take a toll on highway repair funds, it may have helped reduce the number of fatal traffic accidents.

Ohio State Highway Patrol Sergeant Anne Ralston said so far this year traffic deaths in the state are down.

“And they’re down significantly by approximately 28 percent,” she said.

Ralston said it would be speculation to make a correlation between fewer people driving because of high gas prices and fewer fatal crashes.

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