The end of AirCare in the Lower Mainland will have impacts beyond the closure of some testing stations, and the end of waiting in line for most motorists.
The province announced last week that it is winding down the AirCare program, with an official end on Dec. 31, 2014.
"Newer makes and models of light-duty vehicles are not the prime source of the blue smoke and pollution experienced on the road today," said Environment Minister Terry Lake.
"When you look at most cars now, they run a lot cleaner than the vehicles rolling off the line when AirCare started in 1992."
While many drivers may look forward to avoiding the once-or twice-yearly lineup to get tested, the mechanics who repaired the failing cars are not all happy.
Greg Krause, owner of Langley's Jim's Automotive, also has a personal interest in the issue. His son has asthma.
The loss of AirCare will result in fewer cars coming to auto shops around Metro Vancouver, so there will be some lost business, Krause said.
But he also worries that it will result in more air pollution.
Some of the emissions tested for by AirCare, like NOX, are essentially invisible.
"At the end of the day, it's an environmental thing," Krause said. With the geography of the Fraser Valley and the way pollution can get plugged up in the eastern end, he doesn't think it's a good idea to scrap the program.
For Langley Township and other government agencies or firms with fleets of vehicles, it means a savings in money and time.
John McQueen, the equipment maintenance manager at the Township, said they run 42 vehicles through AirCare every year.
Avoiding the testing will save just under $1,000 a year in testing fees, but the big savings will be in time, McQueen said.
Each car needs a staff member behind the wheel, taken from other work that needs doing for the next hour - more, if there's a long wait.
In the past, McQueen said, those taking the cars have called in if the wait was very short, so another two or three cars could be sent down for testing, to save time.
His department also tries to use its newest or less experienced workers on AirCare duty, freeing more specialized staff for regular jobs.
With the end of AirCare, the province has promised to bring in a new program aimed at diesel vehicle emissions.
The environment ministry said it will work with the Ministry of Transportation and other stakeholders, to tackle the remaining problem of particulate matter. A significant amount of particulate comes from large diesel engines, including trucks, excavators, and other heavy equipment.
The Langley-based B.C. Trucking Association (BCTA) is not happy about the idea of new regulations.
"Shifting AirCare to target heavy trucks is unnecessary," said Louise Yako, BCTA's president. "There are already checks and balances in place for diesel engines and fuel that are achieving impressive results in reducing emissions on their own."
Diesel emissions have been in decline for the last 20 years, she said.
A new testing regime will also impact the Township, which has about 16 tandem-axle trucks and 20 mid-sized trucks that run on diesel fuel, in addition to a few other pieces of large equipment.
However, McQueen doesn't think any new regs will hit the Township too hard. "We've got a very new, modernized fleet," he said.
Currently, AirCare testing costs newer vehicle owners 1992-2006 $46 every two years. Older vehicles are tested every year at $23 per test.
It is expected that the fee to inspect 1992-2006 vehicles will be reduced in 2014 to make it fair for car owners requiring an inspection in the final year of the program.
@ Copyright 2013