Since extending hours of operation at area motor-vehicle inspection stations last month, the average wait time at the Washington Avenue station is now down to 40 to 45 minutes.
"The White Station facility is about one hour. When the Washington station gets down to 15 minutes, if the line is backed up on Lamar or White Station, they alert citizens they can go to other inspection stations," said Janet Hooks, director of public services and neighborhoods.
Hooks blamed the (much reviled) city inspection stations' long wait times on capacity, and said the problem should be helped by a new inspection station that should come online within the next 6 months.
Memphis inspects 416,000 vehicles each year through the city's 10 inspection lanes. Chattanooga, which inspects more than 200,00 vehicles, has 22 lanes, and Nashville, which inspects 577,000 vehicles each year, has 17 lanes, each with the ability to be doubled.
The new Appling Road facility will have six lanes, four of which will be designated for passenger vehicles.
I was thinking about something former Indianapolis mayor Stephen Goldsmith said when he was in town last week. (You can read about my take on it in this week's Flyer.)
He was talking about removing needless inspections and regulations for both citizens and businesses. The city's dog licensing law, for example, did nothing to curb strays; it just penalized law-abiding citizens with an inconvenience and a fee.
So Goldsmith instituted standards — dogs had to be on leashes and they had to be vaccinated — and if citizens didn't meet that standard, they were cited.
Imagine if similar action could be taken at the city's inspection stations. I mean, sure, we all need working tail lights and turn signals, but those are things that could be easily citable by police officers. In fact, I believe police do cite for those things already.
So it comes down to federal standards for air quality. We have to have inspection stations because we're a non-attainment area. The city is going to add capacity and workers, and Hooks credits the city's success in improving ozone emissions to the inspection stations.
I'm on board with all that.
But, instead of trying to regulate a problem, what about trying to stop it where it starts?
If vehicle-miles are driving air quality concerns, why don't we try to get people to start driving less?
Build things closer together.
Create bike lanes.
Invest in public transportation.
I know, I know: Perfect world and all that. I'm just saying it might be more convenient to get in front of the issue, rather than chasing it.
Or sitting in line at the inspection station, waiting for it.