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 HARRISBURG, Pa., Nov. 18 /PRNewswire/ -- State Transportation Secretary Howard Yerusalim today announced the selection of Envirotest Systems Corp. of Tucson, Ariz., the nation's largest operator of auto emission inspections, to build and run the federally mandated Pennsylvania system.
 "We're pleased to enter into this agreement with Envirotest because this firm's proposal met the demanding criteria we set up to ensure that customer service under this new testing program would be our top priority," said Yerusalim.
 Envirotest Systems has signed a seven-year contract to establish an expanded, more comprehensive emission testing system for 5.9 million autos and light trucks in 25 counties across the Commonwealth by January 1995.
 Envirotest Systems, ranked the highest of three competing proposals from private industry, is expected to immediately begin the property acquisition that will allow it to build 86 "high tech" test-only centers to assist in reducing harmful air pollutants.
 The expanded auto inspection and maintenance (I/M) program, required under the Clean Air Act amendments of 1990, will cover about 75 percent of the state's registered passenger vehicles, nearly double the 3.2 million autos now being tested in 11 metropolitan counties under a less stringent testing program. "We're pleased to be doing business in Pennsylvania," said George Singleton, president of Envirotest Systems. "We expect to hire more than 2,900 full- and part-time employees by the time we get this testing program completely operational in 1995."
 Singleton said the company plans an investment of more than $150 million in land, building and equipment to set up the regional test-only centers and a Harrisburg headquarters location. As a private entity, he noted, Envirotest Systems will pay more than $4 million in local real estate taxes over the life of the contract.
 Under the new program, the contractor's testing centers will use dynamometer-based lanes and other more complex, expensive technical equipment to ensure that today's computerized anti-pollution devices are properly operating at driving speeds. Once operational, the key features of the enhanced testing system will be:
 -- Testing every other year at a fee that will range from $17 (testing early in the month) to $22 (end of month).
 -- Less than four miles on average to the nearest testing site.
 -- Waiting times of less than five minutes to start the 12-minute test cycle.
 -- Convenient hours, including Saturdays and evenings; open 60 hours a week.
 The new, more comprehensive testing at an average fee of $18.55 is expected to generate about $60 million in annual revenue to provide the financial support for the Envirotest operation.
 The counties to be included in the program under the guidelines issued last year by the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are Allegheny, Beaver, Berks, Blair, Bucks, Cambria, Centre, Chester, Cumberland, Dauphin, Delaware, Erie, Lackawanna, Lancaster, Lebanon, Lehigh, Luzerne, Lycoming, Mercer, Montgomery, Northampton, Philadelphia, Washington, Westmoreland, and York.
 EPA estimates that the enhanced testing program will require emission equipment repairs for about one in five vehicles tested with repair costs ranging from $38 to $120 each.
 Since 1984, PennDOT has operated a decentralized testing program for a fee of $8 each year to check auto exhausts at idling speeds to reduce air pollutants through a network of 3,500 private service stations in the Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Lehigh Valley areas.
 -0- 11/18/93
 /CONTACT: Jim McCarron, press secretary of the Department of Transportation, 717-783-8800/

CO: Pennsylvania Department of Transportation; Envirotest Systems Corp. ST: Pennsylvania, Arizona IN: SU:

MJ -- PH051 -- 6263 11/18/93 17:13 EST
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Nov 18, 1993

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