October 9, 2020
LAWRENCE TOWNSHIP, NJ (MERCER)–The alarm sounded at 4:00 am and after only a few hours of sleep it was time to make the trek to the Bakers Basin, NJ Motor Vehicle Commission Office to renew a CDL. Those with Commercial Drivers Licenses (CDL) have to renew in person at a MVC office. There are also many others than need to do an in person transaction at MVC offices to receive their drivers license depending on specific situations.
Pulling into the parking lot a little after 5:00 am there were already a good amount of cars in parking spaces. I removed my camping chair from my vehicle and placed it in a line of about 100 or more already waiting that had already wrapped around the building. I took a seat and waited in line until I started to feel cold and took a walk around to warm up.
There is a portable restroom or “porta potty” but that is locked until about 7:30 am and there is no where for people to go until that time. Many go in the bushes behind the line near Route 1 since the porta potty is locked. So if you happen to make this adventure go easy on the coffee and liquids until you give your number for text messages.
Around 7:30 a security guard came out and explained what would happen. New Drivers got a ticket right away and go to the front of the line to be processed while the rest of us have to wait. A little after 8:00 am the line started to move as they handed out tickets to get inside to put your name in a computer that will text you when they are ready to bring you inside to process your paperwork.
I was number 87 in line (after all the new drivers already went) and I was checked in by 8:55 am. At 10:10 am I received my first text that they were almost ready for me and about 10 minutes later I had to wait in another line to start the process of 6 points of ID and other processing. At 11:05 I was finished processing and walking out of the MVC with a new Commercial Driver License that was Real ID compliant.
After my experience today comparing it to years past, all MVC employees were very friendly and helpful. The employees have to deal with this never ending back log during a pandemic and have to wear masks, and take other precautions. Even with all that, employees were seen busy at desks and handling paperwork inside. MVC employees should be commended for all they are doing during the pandemic to process all these licenses.
The problem is that if you don’t go early enough in the morning and get a good spot in line you may not make the cut off of how many licenses one MVC location can process that day. There is currently no reservation system other than waking up in the early morning hours and waiting it out trying to get a decent spot in line.
It is no secret that winter is coming and it was already cold this morning during the wait that will only get worse as winter approaches.
Here are some ideas maybe the Governor and MVC Commissioner can think about implementing:
- More portable restrooms that are unlocked so you don’t have to use the bushes.
- Cold, wind, ice and snow will be here soon. Plan on having multiple large tents in the parking lot or grassy areas for shelter.
- Create an online reservation system with the similar text messaging feature that is similar to the one that is in place now. Just that you can register online the day before to reserve a space in line and the system can give you notice before processing. How hard can it be to have 3/4 of the technology already in place and add an online reservation system?
- Hire more employees, add additional processing stations, new equipment and portable MVC units, extend hours until the backlog is worked though. This will still take months there is no end in site for the pandemic.
- There are special considerations for new drivers. There should be a special line and reservation system for Commercial Drivers who drive for a living.
- Paper forms, why should we have to use paper forms? Everything should be computerized and digitized because that is what you are doing anyway. Users should be able to go online and start the process of forms, capture a digital signature the night before while making an appointment the day before. The only reason to show up to the MVC is to scan and verify documents, make any final corrections to the already filled out online document, capture a real signature on a pad, and take a photo ID. This old system of paper forms is broken, time to modernize and streamline the operation. This technology does exist, the Federal Government uses it all the time, why can’t the State?
If the MVC implemented those simple 6 things the MVC experience and wait could be more palatable. Yes, we are in a pandemic but MVC was already having issues with Real ID for years and previous administrations, way before the pandemic. The pandemic just made this situation a lot worse and being used as an excuse for an already broken neglected system. It is time to step up, invest in MVC and make MVC great.
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