Sensible Changes to AirCare Program
Dec 28, 2006
At long last, common sense has prevailed and AirCare is going to relax its testing requirements for new vehicles. Beginning on January 1, 2007, cars 7 years old or less do not have to be tested. That means a 2007 car won't have to be AirCare'd until 2015. Cars from 1992 to 2000 only have to be tested every 2 years. Cars prior to that still need to be tested annually. Because of reduced testing, AirCare is also going to close two of its stations (South Surrey and Burnaby) and reduce some lanes in its remaining stations. The testing fees are expected to remain the same and AirCare says it will look for ways to reduce them in the future (yeah, right).
Beginning January 1, 2007, AirCare will introduce a more customer-focused program that is designed to target only those vehicles that are more likely to have emission defects and exempt more of the newest vehicles from testing. The new program plan includes enhancements that ensure the AirCare program keeps pace with recent innovations in emissions systems technology and continues to make a clear difference in the air we breathe.
Major changes to AirCare coming into effect next January 1st include a testing exemption for 7 model years, an increase from the 4-model year exemption now in place. As well, AirCare will use the On-board Diagnostic system on 1998 and newer vehicles to test the performance of their emission control system.
These changes will reduce the number of vehicles visiting AirCare stations in 2007, when the program expects to conduct just over 500,000 tests. In comparison, there were 1.2 million tests in 1999. As a result, AirCare will reduce its testing capacity effective January 1st by closing the Burnaby and South Surrey testing stations and reducing the number of test lanes to 32 from 42.
AirCare fees will not increase beyond current levels and reviews are underway to see if further efficiencies can possibly lead to a fee reduction. TransLink’s Board of Directors will approve the final program details, including test fees this fall.
Envirotest Canada has signed a new five-year contract with AirCare to provide testing services until December 31, 2011, at which time the AirCare program is expected to wind up.
A key factor in defining the operating parameters of the AirCare program was the Province’s decision to provide a seven-year test exemption for new vehicles. As a result, the number of vehicles to be tested will decline each year as new vehicles replace old ones in the fleet. In 1999, the AirCare program tested 1.2 million vehicles. In 2007, only 514,000 vehicles will require testing and that total will fall to 491,000 by 2011.
By law, AirCare must cover its operating and capital costs through test fees and, with the reduction in tests as well as provincial direction to maintain or lower fees, the program is responding by reducing its testing capacity by ten lanes. Accomplishing this involves the closure of the Burnaby and South Surrey testing stations (five lanes) and taking another five lanes out of service from the remaining stations.
About 70 per cent of vehicles registered in Burnaby are tested at other facilities and all Burnaby residents will be no further than 10 kilometres away from another station.
The South Surrey station is 13 km from the North Surrey station and 19 km from the Langley station. Its closure will leave White Rock / South Surrey residents more than 10 km from a testing station, but a large number of vehicles (41%) currently registered in White Rock / South Surrey will not require a test due to the extended exemption period. The remainder, 85% of the White Rock / South Surrey vehicles will only require a test every two years.
The outline of the new program was designed from the recommendations received from two independent reviews of AirCare and consultation from the public and AirCare stakeholders.
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