AP NEWS

Pollution-reducing car buying incentive ends April 8

April 5, 2019

Christopher Ayala just wanted a reliable car, given the miles he spends on the road between work in Gulfton, church in Cypress and bible college classes in southwest Houston. Cleaning up the air as part of a regional program to remove older vehicles was just a little more incentive.

“It does feel pretty good, now that you mention it,” Ayala said.

Monday is the final day for individuals driving older automobiles to apply for assistance from the Houston-Galveston Area Council to purchase a new or slightly used model. The HGAC program is part of the state’s Air Check Texas effort aimed at removing automobiles more than 10 years old from the road by offering $3,500 toward the purchase of a car no older than three years. The deadline also applies to incentives of up to $600 per owner whose whose vehicle failed an emissions test and who needs financial assistance for the repairs.

The program applies to any resident of Brazoria, Fort Bend, Galveston, Harris, and Montgomery counties. Since 2003, the program has awarded 75,000 vouchers for purchases or repairs, said Sandra Holliday, manager of the Air Check Texas program.

The Texas Department of Environmental Quality, which oversees the program aimed at reducing emissions, is pulling the plug on the incentives in June. The April deadline gives HGAC time to complete all of the requests and submit them to the state.

Ayala, 22, said he was not aware of the program until he was car shopping late last year. The dealer, seeing his car and finances, encouraged him to apply. At the time, Ayala was hopping Metropolitan Transit Authority buses on occasion to get a little more life out of his two-door Pontiac by reducing use.

The 2017 Honda Accord he bought with an Air Check voucher certainly is a step up, he said. It gets far better gas mileage, which is a major improvement considering the miles he spends driving. Plus, it has Bluetooth, making phone calls and music much easier.

“That might be the best thing,” Ayala said.

dug.begley@chron.com

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