This morning’s reports of a veritable armageddeon at the state’s Department of Motor Vehicle offices may have scared some motorists off, in Wethersfield at least.
The state’s central DMV location was far calmer and the waits shorter than yesterday and last week, according to Michael Ash.
“I’ve watched this place expand like a balloon because of the summer, and then with the reorganization,” he said.
Ash works for Hartford’s Job Corps, and has been teaching driving lessons for about a decade. He drops his students off in the morning for their tests, and then picks them up later in the day.
Late last week, he said, his students were at the Wethersfield DMV for as long as seven hours.
“The transition is a nightmare,” he said, adding that while staff have been transferred over from the closing branches, testing equipment like touch screen computers haven‘t.
“If they end up with the same amount of equipment and the same amount of people, all they’re doing is basically reshuffling the deck chairs on the Titanic,” Ash said.
The department has relocated some basic services, such as road tests and out-of-state license transfers, that will only be offered at the four main DMV offices in Wethersfield, Waterbury, Willimantic, and Bridgeport. A full list of the new service consolidation is available here.
DMV Commissioner Melody Currey said Wednesday that much of the recent volume was due to confusion about what locations were closed, and which ones were not.
“It was really an anomaly. I don’t believe it will be the norm,” she said, referring to Tuesday’s long lines.
The DMV is also planning a pilot program in which people seeking learner’s permits will be tested 25 at a time, and driver’s licenses will be mailed, rather than printed immediately after road tests. The programs should be in place by January or early spring, Currey said, along with the online scheduling of tests.
This week’s reshuffling of DMV services and hours will stay, whether or not state employee unions ratify a new concessions deal.
After state employee unions rejected a first round of concessions, the DMV lost 34 per cent of its workforce. But if the unions accept the new concessions package, Currey said she hopes the department can hire back most of those workers.
The closure of the Middletown, Milford, and Derby satellite offices last month, will be reassessed in a few weeks, after the unions have voted on the deal. Voting on the concession package ends today with results expected to be released Thursday afternoon.
DMV offices now have slightly different hours, opening 15 minutes earlier at 7:45 a.m. on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday. They will also open from 9:15 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Thursdays. The change on Thursdays saved the Department 50,000 dollars through a negotiation with the unions, Curry said.
The extra 15 minutes in the morning “might make the difference about whether you come to the DMV to do something, or you go to work.”
Dennis Ampadu, of Hamden, said he had to call out of work today, and had been waiting three hours to get his license, but was understanding of the change.
“If it serves the purpose of satisfying large amounts of people that come in, then why not. It may not be the ideal, but anything to save money is always good,” he said.