The big commuting news for me . . . I still haven't received my Zone 8 commuter rail pass from Wage Works. The conductors were very understanding this morning. They didn't make people who receive their passes from Wage Works pay an additional fare for today's commute. Maybe they heard that the distribution of passes was delayed. I did walk from South Station to my office, though, as I didn't want to deal with the super huge lines of people trying to buy a Charlie Card to get onto the Silver Line.
Walking to my office, I couldn't get over the fact that it is October 1st and still tropical. I'm tired of the humidity. I wish the weather would just be cool or warm, not the in-between that it is right now.
The whole Wage Works thing is a cluster. I'm not alone in sharing this sentiment - check out the comment made earlier this morning by Sarah. This is the third time that people in my company haven't received their commuter passes at the beginning of the month. A couple of us called yesterday and Wage Works assured us that they sent the passes on September 20th. When I got home last night, the T pass wasn't in my mail. So, one of my coworkers got back on the phone with them. My colleague was then told that an email was sent out around September 20th saying there was a processing error, so the October 2008 passes would be delayed. Again - no one at my firm received this mysterious email. Now Wage Works is telling us that we should have our passes today. I guess I'll just have to wait and see until I get home later this evening.
On the train news front, all is pretty quiet. The Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles announced the roll out of a new vehicle inspection program, effective today.
To ensure that vehicles with faulty emissions control systems are identified and repaired more quickly than under the current program, RMV and MassDEP will require model year 1996 and newer passenger cars, trucks and SUVs, as well as 2008 and newer medium-duty vehicles, to undergo annual on-board diagnostic (OBD) emissions testing.
Commissioner Burt said OBD emissions testing will also be introduced for 1997 and newer light-duty diesel vehicles (weighing 8,500 pounds or less) and 2007 and newer medium-duty diesel vehicles (weighing 8,501 to 14,000 pounds). Beginning next April, diesel trucks, buses and other heavy-duty vehicles weighing 10,000 pounds or more but not subject to OBD testing will receive opacity tests that measure the density of the emissions they produce.
Cars, trucks and SUVs manufactured before 1996 - which, at less than 15 percent of the fleet, currently comprise a small and declining share of all vehicles registered in Massachusetts - are either not equipped with on-board computers or not uniformly compatible with the OBD test. These older vehicles will fail their safety tests if inspectors can see smoke coming from their tailpipes. Dynamometer tailpipe testing is ending for these vehicles because their declining numbers do not justify an investment of up to $80,000 per inspection station on required equipment and maintenance.
So, what happens if your vehicle fails this inspection?
As with the current inspection program, a motorist whose private passenger vehicle fails its Massachusetts Vehicle Check OBD emissions test will have 60 days from the initial inspection to get the vehicle repaired and bring it to the same station for a free re-test. When a vehicle is fixed by a state-registered emissions repair technician but fails again, the motorist may qualify for a one-year emissions waiver if repair costs exceed $750, $650 or $550, depending on the age of the vehicle. These financial thresholds will be adjusted annually based on changes in the Consumer Price Index.
Under the new program, a motorist facing major repairs of a private passenger vehicle that fails its emissions test - such as a transmission replacement or an engine overhaul - will also have the option of applying for an economic hardship extension. This will give the motorist a one-time, one-year sticker to continue operating the car, truck or SUV while deciding whether to fix or replace the vehicle.