Thursday, November 18, 2004

Air Care - serious or not?

The Air Care contract is up in 2006. Translink is deciding what to do with it. I say either make it effective or forget it. Get serious or get out. At present, it is nothing more than another cash grab.
New cars are not required to pass Air Care tests, the reason is that car dealers screamed bloody murder when it was proposed. Many many new cars might not pass air care tests. That would cause problems with manufacturers and dealers. And sales.
Trucks, which produce more polution than five cars, are not required to pass air care. What is that about? It would hurt business profits to have truck engines tuned properly. Or improperly, depending on one's point of view. Truck fleet managers admit openly that the first thing they remove from truck engines are breathing restricting agents like catalytic converters, etc. The engines run better and use less gas, cost being the bottom line.
Many of those gas guzzling SUVs are classed as trucks, so the drivers drive around poluting and chatting on their cell phones with impunity. The smoking deisel rig puffing up the hill and belching black smoke doesn't go through air care. The bus spewing out toxicity beside you in traffic doesn't have to go through air care. The tank-like Cadillac Escalade doesn't need to go through because it weighs too much!
I have an older car, an old Datsun 510, it has carborators and it is not intended to run lean, the factory set it for optimum performance. Air Care neccessitated a "tune up" and all they did was lean out the engine so it doesn't run smoothly anymore. I think it uses way more gas. The technician at Air Care even admitted to me that a tune up could not anticipate guaranteeing a pass as individual repair centers do not have the testing equipment that Air Care has! So your mechanic can only guess if he's fixed the problem! The payment is $23. If your car is newer than 1992, it costs you $47! If you come back after repairs it is another $23. These costs, Air Care assures us, are not profit, however, the contract is to an American company. Ever heard of American business doing unprofitable work?

Look at the rear tail pipe of many newer cars next time you're stopped in traffic, are there drops of liquid from the tailpipe? That is called 'blow by', it is UNBURNED gasoline! A result of too lean tuning.
If Air Care is to continue, they need to make it comprehensive, and have every truck and bus in BC going through the tests. Polution control is either the bottom line or cash is. As it is Translink we are talking about, I suspect cash will win out.
From their own website ... The AirCare boundaries (from Lions Bay to Chilliwack) were established to address a serious ground-level ozone problem in the Lower Fraser Valley that is caused by the over one million light duty vehicles operating within a confined basin.
(As an aside, and apropos to the above, I wonder if Translink has anything to say about the Sumas Energy 2, the American intent to build an energy production plant at Sumas, which will add tons of daily air polution to the Fraser Valley.)
Translink , go deep or go home, it is time you got serious about automotive air polution.

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