Trips to your local Department of Motor Vehicle offices should be less frequent and faster as the result of changes announced Tuesday morning during a cabinet meeting at the state Capitol.
Fran Reiter, executive deputy director of state operations, walked Gov. Andrew Cuomo through a list of improvements to the state DMV’s operations, including more services on the Internet, self-serve kiosks and upgraded calling center technology. A few of the changes, such as the self-serve kiosks, initially will be available only in New York City, where lines can last for more than an hour, but many upgrades will affect offices throughout the state.
By utilizing the Internet and more partner organizations, Reiter said, the DMV is hoping to shift about half of its functions beyond its offices.
Schenectady County Clerk John J. Woodward, who administers the county’s DMV branch, stressed that most people don’t realize what they can do on the Internet already. He said it was fantastic that New Yorkers could avoid making the trip to the DMV office if they wanted to.
“You can renew your car registration at 2 in the morning,” Woodward said.
The DMV is also combining the Internet with its office experience, as Reiter said people will be able to go online to reserve a place in line for an office visit. He said that, theoretically, a person would be able to reserve a spot, track the reservation and eventually go right into the office and walk up to a window.
More DMV functions also will be handled by partner organizations, like pharmacies, which will be performing vision tests for license renewals in early 2013. Additionally, written tests for commercial licenses will now be graded by a computer and won’t require a staff person.
In New York City, the DMV is rolling out 15 self-serve kiosks that work like a boarding pass machine at the airport and can perform basic tasks such as registration renewals. There are plans to expand the use of these kiosks, but not to the Capital Region at this point, except possibly the Albany district office on South Pearl Street.
“By taking these transactions out of line, it will reduce the wait time for those who must wait in line for more complicated transactions,” Reiter said.
New technology also will be utilized by the DMV’s call centers to allow customers to be called back, instead of making them wait on hold for an extended period of time.
Reiter said the goal of these improvements is to get customer satisfaction up to 90 percent by 2014. That’s a lofty goal considering the agency deals with more people than any other agency — an estimated 12 million per year.
Woodward said the Schenectady County DMV performs more than 100,000 transactions a year and has about 1,000 people come through its doors each day. He said Capital Region offices don’t experience the same kind of lines or delays as downstate offices, but everyone would benefit from the DMV’s changes, especially the increase in online functions.
Currently, he said, the list of online functions isn’t all-inclusive, but it is long. He credited the state DMV with being forward-looking.
“A lot of people don’t realize you can renew your license online,” Woodward said. “You don’t even have to come in.”
Some of the proposed changes, like different office hours, have been embraced for years by the Schenectady County DMV, which opens at 8 a.m. instead of 9 a.m.
While the kiosks aren’t yet destined for Schenectady County, Woodward described them as the wave of the future and said he is hoping to get one in the future.
He noted that some county clerks are concerned automation may result in lost revenues for the DMV offices. While this is a real concern, he said, the improved customer experience was worth it.
Woodward also predicted DMV offices would never become obsolete, as more and more jobs have been piled on them over the years and certain functions will always require human interaction.
DMV functions can be found at www.dmv.ny.gov, where people can establish a MyDMV account to track and maintain certain information.