WTF, DMV?

Alert “06880” reader Sal Gilbertie had time — p-l-e-n-t-y of time — to write to “06880” today. At 1:02 p.m., he sent this report:

I have been at the Norwalk DMV for about 2 hours now. If the current speed of customer flow is maintained, I’m guessing I have another 2 hours before my business will be complete.

Just snapped this picture, which represents some of the problem. I am directly in front of service windows 1-6, of 22 total service windows. Window 1 on the right did not fit into the picture, and window 6 on the left is obscured by the pole. Trust me: All are empty.

DMV - Norwalk - February 24, 2016

To be fair, this was taken at 12:31 p.m., quite possibly the tail end of some sort of lunch break (unannounced, if it occurred at all). However, at no time since I have been here have more than 11 of the 22 windows been staffed with DMV personnel at any time.

Everyone in the entire place is very friendly, pleasant and patient (staff and customers).

But everyone (all of the staff and customers with whom I have spoken) agrees that the place is clearly understaffed.

The general consensus is that DMV is a “pay-for-play” kind of place. The 2 questions most people seem to ask are:

  • “Why doesn’t DMV raise its fees so it can hire more people?”
  • “When the DMV does make changes, why don’t they adequately plan for an ever-increasing level of service requirements, since there will never be fewer people or fewer cars?”

CT DMVIn a state like Connecticut — with an economy like ours — there are probably lots of well qualified people who would welcome a chance to have a job in DMV.

Lots of people are wasting lots of time here. Kind of takes some of the mystery out of why productivity and the economy are growing so slowly, doesn’t it?

How hard can this be to fix?

POSTSCRIPT: Sal emailed again, at 1:39 p.m.:

I just finished. My business was completed efficiently and pleasantly, albeit with plenty of time lost.

SPECIAL “0688o” PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT: AAA offers many DMV services — including driver’s license renewals. They’re no longer in Westport — but there are offices just over the Norwalk line, and in Fairfield. Click here for details.

23 responses to “WTF, DMV?

  1. Jaclyn Jeffrey

    Discovered late last year, you can also renew your registration online! I needed the emissions test done and had only 2-days to spare before the deadline… I assumed I would need to go to the DMV, pleasantly surprised to find out I did not:)

  2. Jill Greenberg

    This is an example of the many cuts to services felt across the state. Many Millions of dollars have been cut from hospitals, education has been eviscerated, etc. What to do? contact your elected officials stay well informed of how the governing bodies have been spending tax dollars or cutting services to balance the budget, and vote

  3. Can certainly hire more people if the State had the money. It doesn’t.
    One option would be for Gov Malloy to raise taxes again. Unfortunately, more companies like GE – and their tax contributions – would then leave CT. Of course, Malloy would then raise taxes again to bridge the gap and the vicious cycle we’re in would continue.
    *OR*, we could make smart choices and cut expenditures, and lower taxes to retain companies and attract new ones and their capital and job opps. We might then be able to invest in more DMV resources – both online and human.
    If only our Gov and legislature would take a basic Economics class!
    Hopefully, Sal and other readers remember their DMV story when voting.

  4. Having had the full 4 hour wait experience – the last time I had to register a car I went to Danbury – the time driving there and back was more than compensated by the 10 minutes it took to get the job done!

  5. JOHN G LAMBROS

    Unfornatually our State of Ct is broke. The situation at the DMV is just the way things are handled in a mismanaged governmental bureaucracy.

  6. Endless waiting, very much the same as prescription pick up at CVS Westport, they make plenty of money what is the deal there?

  7. They let us do most of this via the mail up here in nh which helps alot. Something ct may want to consider…

  8. similar experience this summer….4 hours to transfer a title

  9. What it appears people do not know-CONNECTICUT spent $30 MILLION on a
    Computer system to help speed transactions at DMV. Yes-you guest it–the system does not work and was a nightmare installing and training.

    What you are experiencing are longer wait times than before the new system was installed. Many operation that the new system was suppose to speed up is not functioning and there are real issues with data being lost. And the training on the new system was a disaster.

    This is not CT cutting programs. Just the opposite. This is CT spending $30 MILLION and making it worse. Kansas tried the same system and had the same problem. Some how we decided to implement the system knowing another state had real issues.

    The guy heading up DMV has resigned and the DMV is a real mess. Unfortunately over time was one way to help with the backlog but now that is costing the state millions more.

    It is a huge mess and you have to wonder what our own Steinberg is thinking since he sits in the transportation committee.

    The Givernor is proposing some new initiatives which are not good for our town.

  10. Dick Lowenstein

    There’s still another way. To renew my driver’s license, I went to the AAA location in Norwalk, across from the BowTie movies. For an additional $3, I was in and out in 15 minutes.

  11. Nancy Hunter Wilson

    Pay government leaders more in order to attract the smart minds away from lucrative professions to government service.
    Or, play hopscotch on those DMV tiles all day long.

  12. I write this against my self interest but I have figured how to beat the wait at DMV. You get there right before they close. Once inside the doors they need to empty the room before they can leave. DMV clerks have two speeds: all day slow and time to go home fast. It is astonishing how many clerks are in the back who magically appear at closing time. I’ve done this 6-7 times with great success

  13. I spent 8 hours at that same dmv when I moved here and went to get my ct license. I had my 5 and 7 year old with me as well. I think I stood in three separate lines and the people working there were very unhappy and uninterested in expediency. You were very kind in your comments. I would not be so kind.

  14. I am so glad you are writing about this… the time we waist going to his DMV is horrible. I usually take magazines, computer and food. Sometimes I don’t believe this the USA. Quite sad!

  15. It’s not just the need for MORE people; it’s the need for BETTER people so more pay is needed to attract literate, concerned employees who are not angry because you’re not working and they are.
    As to the “lunch break” concept, who the hell lets 7 or 8 employees go to lunch at once when folks are waiting for service.

    • Michael Calise

      Unions

      • Michael. This is not about unions or non unions. This story is about a state and the leadership purchasing a computer system that did not work in Kansas and not listening and buying anyway. And then watching as the same issues occurred in CT. It is not the fault of the employees. The leadership let them down.

    • Daniel. You could hire the best and brightest and the DMV would still be a mess. The computer system does not work as planned.. It’s a disaster.

      • Nancy Hunter Wilson

        A maze of Bureaucracy. How does anything get done?
        I still believe that if leaders are paid more (as teachers should be) to attract true problem solvers, then perhaps this quagmire of waste can be eliminated.

  16. Scott E. Brodie

    I spent 40 minutes total at the Norwalk DMV today (1:40 pm to 2:20pm), to obtain a “verified” license renewal (with the Gold Star to confirm it meets the upcoming Federal requirements for air travel, etc.) and to renew my auto registration (a month early!). The parking lot was full, but everyone was cheerful and helpful, and the computers were working just fine.