Lines long at area driver's license offices
Dan Eakin/Staff Photo - About 75 people were in line outside the Texas Department of Public Safety office in McKinney when it opened at 8 a.m. Tuesday. Some had been in line for more than two hours.
"If you are in a hurry, this is no place to be."
That was the advice given by an employee of the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) in McKinney just before 8 a.m. Tuesday to a line of about 75 people who were waiting to renew their driver's license or to take care of other related matters.
Alex Wright, who lives near Frisco, knew the line would be long, so he was at the door at 5:30 a.m. to make sure he would be first. Others showed up a little after 6 a.m., and by 7 a.m., a pretty long line had formed.
"The lines are longer in the summer, partly because of kids being out of school and being among the first to get a driver's license," said Tom Vinger, DPS spokesperson.
The line outside is just the beginning. Once inside, the wait continues, sometimes for as long as another two hours.
It was even longer Monday morning. An employee said the computers were down for about an hour, creating frustration for the employees and those who then had to wait even longer.
The problem of long lines is not just at the DPS offices in McKinney and Plano.
"It's pretty well a statewide problem, especially in metroplexes," Vinger said.
He said the DPS is planning to build six Mega Centers in the state's most populated areas. He said people from several surrounding counties will be able to come to the Mega Center to take care of their driver's license needs.
The Texas Legislature in its last session approved at least $63 million for the new Mega Centers, including those in Dallas, Fort Worth, Austin, San Antonio and two in Houston.
The Mega Centers, all to be completed by January 2013, are expected to reduce long lines and improve service.
The Dallas-area Mega Center is expected to open in September in Garland. DPS is scheduled to open the Fort Worth Mega Center by the end of January 2013.
Vinger said each Mega Center will be larger than a typical driver's license office and will employ at least 25 people. Mega Centers will feature expanded parking, and will utilize technology and online scheduling to expedite transactions and enhance customer service.
Online scheduling will allow individuals to schedule driving tests for Class C licenses. Queuing systems will also be used to allow DPS to track and prioritize demand for certain services at a particular office.
"Mega Centers are not intended to replace existing driver's license offices," Vinger said. "The goal is to ease demand within these regions by increasing capacity to serve the growing population in Texas."