MVC ‘nightmare’ — Massive lines, people turned away after waiting hours
The Motor Vehicle Commission reopened more offices on Tuesday for the first time since March but has been turning away people who waited on line for hours with hundreds of others at each location.
After a one-week delay, the offices opened for licensing and permits, out-of-state transfers, Real ID appointments for people whose previous appointments were put off, and renewals for drivers whose licenses expired more than three months ago.
The delay was to make sure a texting program was working to allow customers to check in and wait outside. Instead, people grouped outside for hours before the branch offices opened with customers in Eatontown, Freehold, Flemington and Newton telling New Jersey 101.5 that hundreds of people were waiting.
The Ocean County Sheriff's Office announced on Twitter account just after 10 a.m. that the Lakewood branch was "at capacity" and no new customers were being accepted.
The inspection facility in Flemington had a long line of cars backed up onto the shoulder of Route 202.
Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick, R-Union, said the Springfield office was a "complete mess."
"Nightmare at Motor Vehicles continues. Very sad. People don’t know where the line starts. No MVC help," he said on Twitter.
"This is why people are frustrated with government. MVC should have at least handed out numbers as people arrived. Instead hundreds wait with no information. Total chaos that could have been avoided in Springfield. People now wait in the heat during a pandemic without info," Bramnick wrote.
New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission Chief Administrator Sue Fulton in a statement said the branch offices are experiencing "extraordinarily high customer volumes" and said agency management personnel were at their "busiest agencies" at 6 a.m.
"Additionally, all of our senior staff in operations are deployed to agencies to help process transactions. While we understand the frustration of our customers in this extremely challenging and difficult time, our employees are doing the best they can to keep everyone safe and work as efficiently as possible," Fulton wrote.
She said their text notification system was working as planned.
Joe Vicente told New Jersey 101.5 that he was #110 on a line that was capped at 100. He was turned away after waiting since 6:30 a.m.
"The issue is lunch and breaks the employees need to take. There must be close to 1,000 people behind me," Vicente said a police officer monitoring the crowd told him, joking that the nearby Dunkin was doing booming business. Vicente said "pretty much everybody" is wearing masks.
MVC spokesman William Connolly told New Jersey 101.5 in a statement the MVC did not closed any agencies on Tuesday.
"In some locations, the lines outside violated the governor’s executive orders, and local law enforcement dispersed the crowd. In other locations, the lines were capped based on the agency’s capacity, and customers sent home," Connolly said.
Kim White, of Jackson, went to the Freehold branch to pick up her daughter's new driver's license after she passed her road test the previous week. She estimated the crowd at 500 or 600 people. A police officer told her only 200 people were being let in.
"The line wraps around the building, through the parking lot, past the inspection, out onto the road and onto the ramp" from Route 33, according to White.
"Everybody's pretty much in the same boat. We're all here for our kids," White said.
She estimated about 40% of the crowd was wearing masks and said there was no police presence.
New Jersey 101.5 traffic announcer Bob Williams said a friend at the Warren County office told him it was "confusing and tensions were high this morning."
Patti McCormick, of Bradley Beach, said she went to the Eatontown office but went home empty handed after police old her that there was a four-hour wait.
Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ
More from Townsquare Media: