A family-run coach company in Dacorum is struggling to keep up with the demand from their customers amid increasing prices of fuel.
Masons Minibus & Coach Hire, which has been running for 34 years, has seen its fuel bills go up by £3,500 a week since January, which is expected to rise further as the UK sees the biggest one-day jump in 17 years.
The price of a tank of fuel for a coach is now at over £1,200 - before VAT, compared to £835 in January.
Candice Mason, who runs the company with her husband, James, and his brother, Matt, said that the increased prices are “soul-destroying"
Candice said: “This year should have been our comeback year that should have been allowing us to recover and to recoup but every week it's something different that we're battling.”
Masons have faced various problems since 2020’s lockdown.
The shortage of HGV drivers and those needed to drive coaches has meant that Masons has had an issue with staffing.
The Road Haulage Association reported a shortage of 100,000 HGV drivers in February with Brexit and COVID-19 causing this problem.
Candice said: “It feels like it's never-ending. The EuroTunnel pretty much won't take coach bookings now.”
She added: “And if you are lucky enough to get across saying they've doubled the price.”
The EuroTunnel, which is Masons’ primary route to Europe, has limited the number of coaches passing through Dover to Calais.
Due to this issue, Masons has had to cancel some trips as they have been unable to get across to mainland Europe.
The company, which is based in Tring, says will eventually have to increase all its prices to allow it to cover its costs.
Candice explained: “We're not covering costs if we don't, let alone even making a profit.”
Masons run 15 school routes in and around Dacorum which are paid for by the parents of the students.
Day trips and holiday tours are a popular part of the business, which were postponed during the pandemic.
Candice said: “I've kept my prices as consistent as I was able to for older customers because they've just spent two years literally being locked up.”
She added: “But those prices of those day trips and holidays will have to go up.”
If Masons is unable to fill a coach with enough passengers, holidays are being cancelled.
Candice said: “If I'm not hitting that target and I'm having to cancel trips.”
Last year, a school route was scrapped as it was not “viable to run”.
The decision to cancel routes and trips has been hard for Candice who sees Masons as a “community service to a degree” and doesn’t want to hit their customers in their pockets.
She said: “We want to have good relationships with our customers. They're so loyal with some of our customers have travelled with us for 30 years.”
Candice urged people to keep booking with them during what she calls “the hardest year to get through”.