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Mega License Centers Could Shorten Wait Times

David Chong

The wait for your drivers license may actually be getting shorter. That’s what the Texas Department of Safety hopes to achieve with the first Drivers License megacenter in North Texas. Reporter David Chong explains how these mega-centers are using technology to help customers avoid long lines.

The line at this Drivers License Center in a Garland strip mallmoves briskly this afternoon. But it’s taken three trips for customer Scott Taylor to change his address, because when he’s come before, the lines have been too long.

"One time I came, the line was outside the door, and there was only one person helping people...And if everybody has to do these things...the customer should have some flexibility as to when they can and do their work," says Taylor.

But just two miles away, the Texas Department of Safety may have an answer for frustrated drivers like Taylor. The DPS has built one of six new Drivers License centers across Texasthat are larger, with more workers and are open longer. The DPS calls them megacenters. And director Steven McCraw says they are the result of $63 million dollars in funding from the state legislature to deal with the growing population.

"The whole point of this is increasing capacity across the state. We’ve outstripped our ability to deliver a decent service on something so fundamental as providing a drivers license. And the only way we can do that is with more people, more space, and leveraging technology," McCraw said.

That technology will allow drivers to make appointments for services online or through their smartphone. Check-in kiosks tell customers how long they have to wait, so they can leave and come back closer to their appointment time. McCraw says the goal is to eventually reduce wait times to less than 30 minutes.

"If we’re smart about technology, if we just leverage what the private sector’s doing, there’s no question we can turn the convenience back to the customer. Let the customer decide when he or she wants to set an appointment," McCraw says.

The Department of Public Safety expects to process about 1000 customers per day at the Garland location. A megacenter in Fort Worth is scheduled to open at the end of January.