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'Staying a Step Ahead'

May 07, 1986

You are to be commended for your strong editorial (April 29), "Staying a Step Ahead," on behalf of cleaner operating RTD buses. Dirty diesels are an obvious source of air pollution that is especially offensive to the rest of the motoring public.

In an effort to begin corrective action, last year I carried, and the governor signed, Senate Bill 152, which will include diesel inspections to the "smog-check" program currently applicable to smaller vehicle engines in areas of the state with poor air quality.

This session I am carrying Senate Bill 1147, which proposes to appropriate federal funds available to California for a program to convert diesel engines on public transit buses to clean-burning methanol. I am confident that the economic feasibility of conversion to methanol will be demonstrated by this program and we will be able in time to reduce our dependence on diesel.

Public transit is in serious financial difficulties, due primarily to severe reductions in funds available from the federal Urban Mass Transit Administration. Retrofitting existing buses to use methanol will avoid the need to purchase new buses to achieve better air quality.

The funding source proposed in SB 1147 is the so-called "petroleum violation escrow account" created by the federal government in settling oil overcharge litigation. However, negotiations between the Legislature and the state Administration have not yet resolved what priorities will be followed in allocating California's share of the funds. Obviously, I regard cleaner transit buses as one of the highest priorities.

ROBERT PRESLEY

State Senator

36th District

Riverside

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