the staff of the Ridgewood blog
Trenton NJ, New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission Chief Administrator Sue Fulton today announced a sweeping set of ambitious initiatives the Commission is rolling out in preparation for the issuance of REAL ID.
“We’ve seen in other states that issuing REAL IDs causes dramatically longer lines, in some cases completely overwhelming Motor Vehicle agencies,” Fulton said. “We want to make sure that we are ready for our customer volume to double, triple, or even quadruple, when REAL ID starts.”
Chief Fulton laid out a number of major changes now under way or planned for the next few months, from enhancing online services to improving agency operations and computer systems and hiring roughly 200 new employees.
“All of our changes are designed for us to function as smoothly and efficiently as possible once we begin issuing REAL IDs in the weeks ahead,” Chief Fulton said. “Everything we are doing is designed to reduce lines and wait times, while improving the overall customer experience.”
REAL ID is the federal requirement for state-issued driver licenses and non-driver IDs to help prevent fraudulent identification. Either a REAL ID or a valid passport will be required to board commercial flights beginning October 1, 2020. Since the current, standard-issue New Jersey driver license will no longer be accepted as identification to fly, it is expected that millions of New Jerseyans will opt for the REAL ID license.
Following are the changes the Commission has either completed or is in the process of implementing:
The MVC website has been revamped, with easier navigation and better search. More importantly, customers can now do several transactions online that previously required an in-person visit. This change means thousands of customers can “skip the trip,” resulting in shorter lines inside the agency:
- Driver license renewals can be transacted online if eligible. Every four years you must renew your NJ license, but you only need a new photo every eight years; if you don’t need a new photo, you can now renew online rather than by mail.
- Driver license replacements are available online. Until now, if your license was lost, stolen, or damaged, you needed to visit a Motor Vehicle Agency to replace it. Now you can get a replacement via the MVC website.
- Registration replacements and renewals are now available online as well.
- Sign up for REAL ID notification. The new MVC-owned microsite REALIDNJ.com not only provides information about REAL ID in New Jersey, but you can sign up to be notified if/when we are beta-testing REAL ID issuance at an agency near you.
“No one should be standing in line for hours because a system has gone down,” said Chief Administrator Fulton. “That’s why we’re replacing equipment and software in each of our 39 agencies.”
Over the next six months, MVC will complete the following:
- Replace All Agency Servers. Each agency has its own server, and they’re all technically at “end-of-life.” Between May 1 and October 1, 2019, every agency’s server will be replaced with a new one.
- Replace over 1200 PCs as well as keyboards and monitors throughout those 39 agencies.
- Install faster, more reliable driver testing software.
- Replace our point-of-sale payment system – where outdated credit card scanners currently cause frequent outages. Implementing new cloud-based technology expands our ability to scan not only credit cards, but eventually licenses and QR codes that can link to and upload a customer’s completed application.
- Finish expanding our new queuing system, in which the customer gets a ticket, and follows overhead screens to the open window. This system tracks wait times for each stage of a transaction and allows managers to speed customer flow. The system is currently piloting in Trenton and Delanco, and will be expanded to all other agencies. Updates in Phase 2 (2020) will allow us to schedule REAL ID appointments.
Staffing and Hours
On any given day, at any given time, an average of only 60 percent of agency “windows” (stations) are open. On Saturdays or late Tuesday nights, it’s fewer than 50 percent.
“Our overtime budget is five times what it was just four years ago – but we are still stretching too few employees over multiple shifts every day, just to cover all the hours,” commented Chief Fulton. “We have the most staff on hand during mid-mornings and mid-afternoons on weekdays – when the fewest customers come in.”
MVC will be filling open positions at an accelerated rate in an effort to achieve 100percent of windows staffed, and will add 209 full-time and 80 part-time positions in the FY2020 budget. But even those changes will not staff every window.
To get to full staffing, MVC will consolidate its hours and move to one shift during the week rather than two, meaning all employees will be present at opening time, and until closing time. Starting July 6, Motor Vehicle agencies will be open weekdays 8am-4:30pm. In addition, to serve those who cannot visit during standard business hours, MVC Saturday hours will be extended, from 8am-3pm, and will use part-time employees to staff the windows at 100 percent instead of 50 percent, to serve more customers in less time.
|Current thru Jul 5, 2019||Effective Jul 6, 2019|
|MONDAY||8am – 5:30pm||8am – 4:30pm|
|TUESDAY||8am – 7:30pm||8am – 4:30pm|
|WEDNESDAY||8am – 5:30pm||8am – 4:30pm|
|THURSDAY||8am – 5:30pm||8am – 4:30pm|
|FRIDAY||8am – 5:30pm||8am – 4:30pm|
|SATURDAY||8am – 1pm||8am – 3pm|
“As these new initiatives come online, we will be able to roll out REAL ID availability in beta testing, agency by agency, starting in June,” said Chief Fulton. “As with most software roll-outs, we can’t predict how long the beta testing and debugging will last, but we will expand as quickly as we can without sacrificing customer service.”
“While we are eligible for another one-year extension starting in October 2019, we do not plan to apply for one,” concluded Fulton. “We expect New Jersey to be compliant well before that deadline even as we make the many ambitious improvements necessary to minimize any impact on our valued customers.”