Governor Directs Relief Program for Motorists
Governor Christie Whitman today directed implementation of a plan aimed at reducing wait times at the state's most troubled motor vehicle inspection stations and directed the Commissioner of Transportation to implement it immediately.
The plan calls for:
Additionally, the Governor announced that motorists with January stickers will receive a one-month extension to February under a directive issued today by the Division of Motor Vehicles.
- Initiating an interim program of promoting and implementing the new inspection system by reducing the cost of inspections to motorists through partial reimbursement for inspections conducted at Private Inspection Facilities (PIF);
- Reverting to the manual inspection process in effect prior to December 13th at the fifteen motor vehicles inspection stations experiencing the longest delays;
"It is no news to anyone that the inspection system is not working the way we had hoped or the way it is required under the terms of the contract," the Governor said. "Nonetheless, the purpose of the enhanced inspection program is to help improve New Jersey's air quality. In the interest of achieving that goal we believe the steps we have outlined will help us achieve that goal without continuing to inflict burdensome inspection wait times on the people of our state," she continued.
PIF Promotion and Implementation Program
Under the program outlined by the Governor, PIF operators would be reimbursed $25 for each enhanced inspection they conduct through June 30th, providing they pass on the savings to the motorist.
This combined with the $10 rebate being offered to PIFs by Parsons, the operator of the central inspection lanes, and the $10 discount being offered by PIFs participating in the Parsons' rebate program would reduce the average cost to motorists for a private inspection to under $50. Private inspections currently cost between $45 and $125, with the average being about $75.
"We believe this program will provide the incentive necessary for motorists to resume using the nearly 1,400 private inspection stations that are operating throughout the state. Use of these private facilities is essential to the ultimate success of the program," the Governor said.
Since the start-up of the enhanced inspection program on December 13th the private facilities are averaging approximately 49,000 inspections per month. The goal is to increase this to a minimum of 75,000 or more inspections per month. The enhanced inspection system is designed to accommodate 70% of motorists each month in the central lanes and 30% in the PIFs.
Under this program and beginning at the end of February, PIF operators would submit copies of the inspection reports they provide motorists to the Division of Motor Vehicles for reimbursement. The reports would clearly indicate that the PIF operator had passed on the savings to the motorists.
Interim Refersion to Old Test
The second part of the Governor's program would target relief to motorists who are using the most heavily congested central inspection stations.
Since the enhanced inspection program started last month, the average wait time through the end of yesterday was 28 minutes. However, the average times vary depending on the region of the state, with the longest wait times (average 39 minutes) in the north; 24 minutes average in the central and 19 minutes in the south.
"We believe that by targeting the ten most congested stations and the five single lane facilities (15 total) to revert to the old test while we continue to fix the problems being encountered with the new test, we can keep the amount of time motorists must wait to a bearable level," the Governor said.
"Because this clearly means some cars won't receive the enhanced inspection, while the majority will, we view this as a short-term strategy that keeps New Jersey's motorist from bearing the burden while our contractors work to make the system function as it was intended."
The reversion will consist of a limited number of stations administering the pre-enhanced test with emissions equipment that was used prior to December 13th and the use of the old punch cards instead of computers. This should more than double the number of cars that can be inspected per hour in each lane, thus significantly reducing wait times.
The inspection stations that will revert to the old system effective Monday, January 31, 2000 along with their average wait times since December 13th are:
"We believe this targeted approach will relieve much of the frustration being experienced by motorists in areas of the state experiencing the longest wait times while allowing us to work within the framework of the agreement reached with the EPA," the Governor said. "At the same time, Parsons will be implementing its program to put the entire inspection system in compliance with their contract with the State."
Additionally, all other inspection stations will have the ability to switch to the curb idle test when wait times reach 45 minutes, so that regardless of location in the state motorists will not have to endure excessive wait times.
The Governor noted that all of the actions she has directed are designed to compensate for "an inspection system that isn't ready for prime time."
"Our goal in implementing the enhanced inspection system has always been to improve the quality of New Jersey's air and reduce the health problems created by pollution.
"I have directed an investigation by the Attorney General to determine why the state started up an inspection system with all the flaws we have discovered since the start-up. When that is completed and all the facts are known, there will be sufficient time for assigning responsibility. In the meantime, we must continue to strive for our goal of cleaner air without burdening motorists with outrageous waits," the Governor said.