Wait times still long in TN driver service centers
By Associated Press
NASHVILLE, TN (AP) - Although state officials have made improvements in how driver service
centers operate, motorists still have long wait times for service.
The Tennessean reports attempts to cut wait times over the last two
years have been hampered by computer issues and an increase in handgun
Gov. Bill Haslam promised two years ago to work on cutting the wait for customers at the centers.
At one center in July, people waited an average of 40 minutes before
getting service. At another center in Nashville, people were given
estimated wait times of three hours.
Safety and Homeland Security Commissioner Bill Gibbons said he hopes
the setbacks, which he hopes are temporary, show how difficult the job
of fixing driver service centers has been.
"It is a big challenge," he said. "We came into a situation where
there was what I call a culture of mediocrity that had existed for a
very long time. And that's not just a problem in Tennessee. I think
that's a problem nationwide in driver's license operations."
The administration has installed more than 100 self-service kiosks
for routine business such as drivers renewing a license or asking for a
However, some business — including handgun permits — must be handled at the windowand applications for those have surged. To complicate matters, a computer system that was supposed to help cut wait times and combat fraud hasn't worked as well as anticipated.
Kenny Spence, who waited to transfer his license back to the state
after moving back from Maryland, said the center he went to seemed
"There wasn't any sense of urgency," he said. "It seemed very understaffed."
Gibbons said some of the centers are old and have low staffing
levels, but that it wasn't realistic to expect spending to increase for
"We understand the fiscal limitations the state is under," Gibbons
said. "So what we're going to try to do is push more of these
transactions outside the center."
Although wait times are long, Gibbons said there have been some
improvements, including expanded hours and more training for employees
and customer satisfaction surveys show people are happy with their
service once they receive it.
"They're having to wait too long," Gibbons said, "but I think we've made some real progress."
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