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Average Wait Time Drops At Department of Motor Vehicles

 Average Wait Time Drops At Department of Motor Vehicles

Hartford Courant, August 5, 2016

By Russell Blair

HARTFORD – The Department of Motor Vehicles has cut average wait times at its 12 branches this summer to about an hour and has undertaken a review to reduce that time further.

Wait times spiked last August to an average of 2 hours and 40 minutes after offices shut down for a week to accommodate a massive computer upgrade. That number steadily dropped to a low of 43 minutes in January, and has since leveled out at about an hour. At the end of June, according to data from the DMV, the average wait for the month was 1 hour and 52 seconds.

The wait accounts for the time between when a customer takes a number and when they are served. The reduced wait times come as the DMV is preparing to take on a new task — a streamlined "motor voter" program in which customers will be asked if they would like to register to vote during their transaction.

Beginning Tuesday, if a customer opts in, the DMV computer program will generate a voter registration form with existing data from the transaction that will be printed out, completed by the customer and returned to the clerk. Secretary of the State Denise Merrill proposed legislation that would have allowed the entire process to be conducted electronically, but critics cited the ballooning wait times at the DMV as a reason not to task the agency with a new mandate.

Under the system beginning next week, the DMV will send the voter registration forms to municipal registrars of voters, who will complete the process.

Fully automated system back to top

Over the next two years, the DMV and Merrill's office are planning to move toward a fully automated system. There are about 600,000 people in Connecticut who are eligible to vote and have not registered, she said.

The commissioner who oversaw the computer upgrade that led to the hourslong wait times, Andres Ayala Jr., resigned in January after what he described as a "challenging" year on the job. His replacement, Michael Bzdyra, announced last month that a review was underway to cut wait times even further. "Our goal, as I promised when I took office, is to build a better and stronger DMV that makes it easier for customers wanting to transact business with us," Bzdyra said in a statement.

The agency will review how it conducts passenger car registrations, commercial vehicle registrations and boat registrations. An outside agency, MorphoTrust, the DMV vendor for licensing services, is helping with the review.

The DMV said a survey of 1,300 customers statewide found nearly 70 percent said wait times were too long. "That 70 percent is unacceptable," Bzdyra said. "Customer sentiment is critical to our success. DMV's focus now is on finding new and different ways to reduce wait times and improve our relationship with our customers."