Friday, December 2, 2011

Colorado / New Plate Watch: Mesa State College Becomes Colorado Mesa University, But Will the Plate Follow Suit?

During 2011, Mesa State College in Grand Junction completed an upgrade to "university" status and has since been renamed as Colorado Mesa University. This is a fine achievement, and worthy of celebration. However, it poses a problem - will the former college's Colorado license plate be redesigned to match?

Since the Maverick mascot and school colors have not changed, all I'd expect to see is an adjustment in the text along the bottom. And Colorado DoR has, in fact, adjusted the name they list the plate under on their website. But these are the things that keep me up at night...what will the state do? When will they do it? As always, I'll stay on top of it and let you know.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Colorado / Plate Decoder: Red Plates

Continuing on the theme from yesterday, we'll delve into more of Colorado's code-lettered plates with the "red" series. While these still use the same basic mountain background as the more common green plates, these red plates tend to be geared toward fleet and commercial registrations.

APP ATK / Apportioned Truck. Like most other states, Colorado issues Apportioned plates to vehicles (usually heavy trucks) participating in the International Registration Plan. The IRP is a reciprocal agreement that allows participating US states and Canadian provinces to issue plates for cargo trucks and transit buses that are valid across borders. Vehicles so registered pay just one state's registration fees, which are then spread on a proportional basis to all the participating jurisdictions. Older Colorado Apportioned issues actually used the word "Apportioned" on the plate like most such states; when the state redesigned its plates for the next millennium, only the letters for each individual type were used at first (ATK, ATL, ATR and PRM). This apparently did not sit well with someone (most likely out-of-state law enforcement agencies), as it wasn't long before little stickers reading "APP" were applied to the top of each of these types to indicate their status as Apportioned plates. Then a couple of years ago, the plates were reworked to include the "APP" lettering on the right side of the plate, making this Colorado's only set of plates (for a little while, anyway) with two sets of code letters. (Check out Jim Moini's excellent Apportioned Plates site for a few more images of actual plates with the "APP" sticker.) This plate is for a truck that does not pull a trailer, such as a large Ryder or U-Haul moving van.

APP ATL / Apportioned Trailer. This plate differs from the PRM plate below in that it still requires yearly validation and carries stickers. All these APP plates, by the way, are interesting in that they're Colorado's most prominent current plates without a separator of some kind between the number and letter sections of the serial. Previous plates using this style were deemed "hard to read" by law enforcement, in that it was sometimes difficult to distinguish the two parts. The state had no choice in this case, since the "APP" section needed to be added for clarity of purpose.

APP ATR / Apportioned Tractor. As you'd guess, this one is for a truck tractor that's intended to pull a trailer - most other states would call it an "Apportioned Power" plate or something similar. I don't have a picture of the sample for this one, because Colorado's plate info page doesn't show it (and in fact, has very little info at all about their Apportioned plates - even the link they provide to the state statutes doesn't explain anything). Which means that I'm not sure if it's still offered, actually. Jim Moini's aforementioned site has a picture of an older example.

APP PRM / Apportioned Permanent. This is a trailer plate, different from the ATL plate above in that the owner pays a pro-rated fee in advance for a set number of years. As I understand it, these plates are assumed to be valid if attached to a trailer, and do not require stickers. The advantage to this is that the owner of the trailer doesn't have to track it down to slap new stickers on it every year, since it might be halfway across the country or buried deep in a freight yard.

FLT / Fleet. These can appear on a wide variety of vehicles, but you'll see them most often on regular passenger cars and light trailers. Fleet plates are only allowed for use by companies registering ten or more vehicles together, such as rental agencies. When these plates first appeared, they tended to carry validation stickers; that seems to no longer be the case and they'll most often be unstickered now. I've noticed that some of the more interesting letter combos ("words" or triple letters, for instance) tend to appear on FLT plates for some reason - not sure if that's intentional or not.

GVW / GVW (Gross Vehicle Weight Rated) Truck. This is what you'd call the "standard" heavy truck plate in Colorado, being used by default on any vehicle weighing 16,000 pounds or more (or alternatively, a truck weighing 10,000 pounds or more that would exceed 16,000 pounds in combination with a trailer). Thus, pretty much any truck bigger than a pickup will have one of these on it. These can be personalized up to seven characters, which requires them to be produced as a flat plate.

TVW / GVW (Gross Vehicle Weight Rated) Tractor. Like the GVW plate above, but for semi-truck tractors. Not sure why the state still feels it needs to produce two kinds of plates that serve almost the same purpose - especially when GVW plates vastly outnumber their TVW brethren. These can be personalized up to seven characters as well.

Additionally, there's one more "red" plate that isn't a coded plate like the above types, but it fits with the general theme...

Livery. Livery plates were introduced this year for the purpose of making it perfectly clear whether or not a limousine or town car is owned by a PUC-registered firm. (Taxicab plates will be appearing next year for the same sort of purpose.) By dint of their specialty-style design, with the "Livery" text along the bottom, all of these plates are produced as flats. These can also be personalized up to seven characters - in fact, I'm curious to know whether the vanity versions outnumber the serialized versions since so many limo services used standard vanity plates (which were eligible for direct transfer) before this new issue arrived.

Part three (the final countdown!) of this series will explore Colorado's often-mysterious blue plates.