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BUS PROBLEMS: Frozen Fuel Leads To Cancellations

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The state's biggest district was just about the only one in the metro to have school Tuesday.

Des Moines schools were delayed by two hours, but by 10 a.m. Tuesday morning, students were filing off the bus and into Greenwood Elementary School.

Down the road in West Des Moines, it was a different story.

Buses remained in the lot all day.

Elaine Watkins-Miller the Director of Community Relations for the West Des Moines Community School District says the buses were unable to move because the diesel fuel that runs them was literally frozen solid.

"The fuel, which is a diesel fuel, gelled,” said Watkins-Miller.

Maintenance workers learned about the problem Monday afternoon.

After getting 90% of the buses started, seven were taken on test runs only two of them returned.

"We didn't want to risk sending our buses out on the road and having them stall with kids on board,” Watkins-Miller told Channel 13 News.

Watkins-Miller says a two hour delay wouldn't have been enough to keep the buses going, but back in Des Moines, the delay did the trick.

“98 out of 100 buses went on time today,” said Todd Liston, Transportation Manager for Des Moines Public Schools.

Liston credits finding the right blend of diesel fuel and winter weather treatment to keep buses on the roads.

"I think that's why we didn't have the issues here other folks have been having,” said Liston.

West Des Moines also works hard to treat its fuel, but says there is work to be done to keep fuel from freezing up in extreme cold.

"We are already in conversation with our fuel supplier," said Watkins-Miller.

West Des Moines was far from the only district to have problems with its fuel Tuesday.

District officials from Waukee say 19 of their 50 buses failed to start up during test runs.

Ankeny and Urbandale also reported having similar issues.