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Lesniak/Van Drew Measure To Reduce Motor Vehicle Facility Wait Times Clears Senate Transportation Committee

From left to right: Senators Jim Whelan, D-Atlantic, Jeff Van Drew, D-Cape May and Cumberland, and Raymond J. Lesniak, D-Union, confer about legislation prior to a vote.

Bill Requires MVC Administrator To Establish Average Customer Wait Time of 15 Minutes or Less

TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senators Raymond J. Lesniak (D-Union) and Jeff Van Drew (Cape May/Cumberland/Atlantic) to ensure residents are provided efficient service at Motor Vehicle Commission sites by requiring the state to cut average customer wait times to 15 minutes or less was approved today by the Senate Transportation Committee.

The bill (S-2922) comes after the Motor Vehicle Commission consolidated and closed a number of service sites, including those in Elizabeth, Bridgeton and Wyckoff. In some areas, customers have faced longer than average, sometimes extraordinary, wait times. The senators sponsored the bill to make sure the MVC takes steps to ensure service times are reasonable given the inconvenience placed on residents in those areas and the increase in volume at nearby facilities.

“New Jersey has a checkered past when it comes to the delivery of motor vehicle services to the public. We cannot allow our facilities to revert back to the second-rate service providers they once were,” said Senator Lesniak, whose district includes Elizabeth. “This bill will require the MVC to establish customer wait times of 30 minutes or less at facilities across the state, and ultimately require that wait times are brought to 15 minutes or less. This is hardly an unreasonable request for the delivery of basic motor vehicle services, especially given that a major source of operating revenue for the MVC is drivers’ fees.”

“Customers should not have to wait for hours on end in line to have their registration renewed or their driver’s license updated,” said Senator Van Drew, who represents residents who utilized the Bridgeton facility. “This bill will require the MVC to make a concerted effort to keep wait times to a minimum at facilities statewide, an effort that residents expect and deserve from a fee-supported agency.”

This bill would require the Chief Administrator of the Motor Vehicle Commission to establish, within 60 days of the bill’s effective date, standards designed to achieve average customer wait times of 30 minutes or less at all commission facilities. Under the bill, the chief administrator would also have to develop and establish incentives designed to ultimately achieve average customer wait times of 15 minutes or less. The chief administrator would be required to annually publish the information concerning customer service wait times as required by current law.

“Residents in Elizabeth, the fourth largest city in the state, have already been inconvenienced by the closure of the local motor vehicle site. Forcing them to travel to a new facility and then wait hours for service once they get there is unacceptable,” said Lesniak. “Establishing standards for wait times is the least we can do to ensure their requests are processed in an efficient manner.”

“Though the state made a decision to close a number of facilities, we must ensure that other sites have the capacity to handle the increased demand,” said Van Drew. “This bill will require MVC officials to put controls in place to ensure adequate service times and to report back to the Legislature on their progress.”

The committee approved the measure by a vote of 5-0. It next heads to the full Senate for consideration.

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