NJ officials address new initiatives, long wait times at MVC

Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC) Chair and Chief Administrator B. Sue Fulton said many people visiting an MVC agency are unaware that their transactions can be conducted online and advised customers to check online before visiting a facility.
Photo by WikimediaMotor Vehicle Commission (MVC) Chair and Chief Administrator B. Sue Fulton said many people visiting an MVC agency are unaware that their transactions can be conducted online and advised customers to check online before visiting a facility.

At a press conference on Friday, Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC) Chair and Chief Administrator B. Sue Fulton addressed new initiatives to alleviate wait times at MVC agencies.

The Daily Targum previously reported the MVC reopened in June with some changes in operations due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic creating a backlog of transactions. Fulton said in 2019, the MVC processed approximately 240,000 transactions per week, but over the last 6 weeks, the MVC has consistently surpassed this number of transactions each week.

The average wait times for road tests, driver knowledge tests, commercial driver license tests and inspections have also reached their pre-COVID-19 levels, Fulton said. The number of vehicles coming for inspections has been lower than officials expected, so there is a possibility inspection wait times could increase dramatically this month, she said.

Since March, Fulton said the MVC also expanded its online services by adding 20 new vehicle transactions and expanding payment options. She said Gov. Phil Murphy (D-N.J.) signed a new law on Sept. 10 to extend the validity of driver’s license photos for another four years, which she said will make it easier for New Jerseyans to renew their licenses online.

“With this measure, you will only need to come and visit us in person once every 12 years instead of once every eight years,” she said. “What’s more, if you’re 65 years or over … your photo is valid indefinitely.”

Fulton said almost every resident with a basic New Jersey driver’s license can now renew it online, even if they have received a notice saying to come in person. The new measure means approximately 220,000 fewer people will have to visit an MVC location between now and the end of the year.

New driver’s licenses, out-of-state license transfers, commercial driver licenses and private sales of used cars must all be conducted in person so officials can examine the proper documents.

Despite these new measures, Fulton acknowledged that some facilities are still experiencing long wait times. To alleviate this, she said MVC officials distribute tickets to those waiting in line based on the capacity for the day. The customer can leave the facility and will be contacted by phone when they are able to return for service.

She said customers should not be camping outside of MVC agencies overnight to get a spot in line. The MVC conducted a survey on what time customers arrive in line and found, on average, only three locations: Newark, Wayne and South Plainfield, would have to turn customers away who arrived at 8 a.m., when the agency officially opens.

“At the other 36 agencies, if you arrive by 8 a.m., you will get a ticket, you will be served that day,” Fulton said. “In fact, the time at which the last person got a ticket to be served that day varies for every agency right up to 3:30 p.m. in the afternoon. On average, the last ticket is given out roughly between 11:30 a.m. and noon.”

The MVC posts the times when each agency reaches capacity each day, and said if a resident is planning to visit an agency, they should check the website for a few days to get a better idea of what time they should arrive by, Fulton said. She also advised customers to visit on a weekday if possible due to longer lines on Saturdays.

Additionally, she said many customers at MVC agencies do not realize that their transactions can be conducted online and advised customers to check the MVC website to help reduce the number of people coming for in person services.

Murphy said the new initiatives being implemented within the MVC are designed to improve the organization's operations for the future.

“We don’t want to just get this into as good of a place as it was six months ago before COVID(-19),” he said. “(Fulton's) been trying to take this entire organization to a place it’s never been before that holds up on a national comparison of best practices, not just back to where we were.”