Disgusted NJ lawmaker demands better service from MVC
Tis' the season – to be frustrated.
New Jersey state Sen. Kristin Corrado, R-Passaic, wants the state Motor Vehicle Commission to partner with AAA to eliminate the need for some Garden State drivers to travel long distances to do MVC transactions.
She pointed out the New York Department of Motor Vehicles has a working relationship with AAA to offer a number of services “including providing driver’s licenses and REAL ID driver’s licenses, and so the fees would be paid by the state of New Jersey.”
If the MVC agreed to a partnership, New Jersey drivers would pay a surcharge, probably a few dollars, to be able to conduct motor vehicle business at a AAA office, but Corrado pointed out for many people the added convenience would be well worth the extra cost.
Drivers are stressed out
Corrado said her office gets calls every day from people complaining about having to drive 45 minutes to an hour each way to different motor vehicle offices that offer different services.
During the pandemic, the MVC ended the ability for all agencies to conduct both license and vehicle transactions, instead opting to separate agencies into license-only services or vehicle-only services. While the agency in Egg Harbor Township recently started offering all transactions again, most have not. For months, several lawmakers have been calling on the MVC to restore full services at all agencies.
Corrado said a partnership with AAA would free up MVC offices to return to full services.
"It’s working in other states, and so it would be a great example of a public-private partnership.”
She noted this move would not translate to job cuts at the MVC, instead it would free employees up to provide "full services to our constituents throughout the state.”
Virtual doesn't always work
In addition to the AAA partnership, Corrado is also calling on the MVC to reintroduce more in-person opportunities for New Jersey residents.
“Every transaction can’t be done online, not everybody has access to a computer. Some transactions may be more complicated and you need to speak with someone,” Corrado said. "Virtual doesn’t always work and not providing full services doesn’t work, and after three years it’s time to go back to providing services to the residents of our state.”
Corrado introduced a bill nine months ago, S2546, to require the Motor Vehicle Commission to fully reopen according to pre-pandemic guidelines, but the measure has stalled.
She noted the MVC recently announced it will offer a handful of “hybrid” agencies that will perform both vehicle and licensing services, which is welcome news but more needs to be done.
If a partnership between the MVC and AAA was created, New Jersey residents in most counties, but not all, could take advantage of the expanded services offered in AAA offices whether they were a member or not. However, in some areas, only AAA members would be able to utilize these services.
That’s because there are three different AAA organizations in the Garden State, with different sets of rules.
AAA Mid-Atlantic, which covers 11 New Jersey counties, would not require people to hold a membership to conduct MVC transactions, but AAA Northeast would.
It is unclear what guidelines AAA South Jersey would follow.
When asked for comment, a spokesman for the MVC released the following statement:
"The MVC has begun the process of transitioning a few of our locations to hybrid agencies that would offer both vehicle and licensing services. We have started communicating plans with state partners, including members of the Legislature. We soon plan to make information available via a media advisory as all details are finalized."
"We have had many discussions with AAA, but the services it could offer are already available online at the MVC website, including all those listed by Senator Corrado."
"The MVC has expanded online services so that the vast majority of customers do not have to make any in-person visit, at all. License renewals only require an in-person visit every 12 years. Nearly all registration renewals are available online. Duplicates, replacements, and address changes are available online, too. Unless you’re getting your first New Jersey license or registering a privately purchased vehicle, your transaction is probably available online with MVC."
"MVC operations are more efficient and productive than they have been in history and are processing record numbers of transactions. Our services – about 80% online – are more accessible and convenient than ever. We continue to evaluate our operations so that we can effectively serve all New Jerseyans and will make announcements about any changes in operations once details are finalized."
David Matthau is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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