If there is one thing that infuriates people, it is having to deal with the Department of Motor Vehicles at the county office building in Watertown. The lines are almost always long, the employees rude and the general environment dreary.
Having traveled the world, I would expect a sight like this to be seen in a former Eastern Bloc country, not Watertown. It wasnt until I encountered the service at another DMV office in New York state that I even realized there was an alternative.
Erie County is the home of one of the only DMV offices open on Saturdays. Last month, when I needed to title and register a vehicle on a weekend, I was forced to drive to Depew in Erie County. After spending the whole trip there thinking of how horrible an experience I was undoubtedly walking into, I was absolutely taken aback by their smooth-running, courteous operation.
Upon walking into the building, you check in at an automated touchscreen console, which asks what services you require and provides you with a checklist of the forms and identification items required to complete your transaction. The console then prints a ticket with a number on it, and you have a seat in the very comfortable waiting area.
Glancing up at the flat-screen monitors you can see which customer numbers are being handled. When your turn comes, the monitors flash your ticket number and a teller at one of the 10 windows announces your number.
Even though there were close to 40 people in the waiting area at any given time, every customer I saw was handled very quickly and efficiently.
I was out the door with my license plates, registration and temporary inspection in less than 10 minutes.
After seeing an operation like this, and even discussing it for a few minutes with the teller, Im at a complete loss as to why a system like this hasnt been implemented in Jefferson County.
The addition of a check-in system would reduce waiting times and completely eliminate the need to stand in line, which is already difficult for the elderly and disabled.
Having the system go over a checklist of the required paperwork would reduce DMV employee stress. I also think eliminating the extended Thursday hours and opening it on Saturdays would generate more income from residents of neighboring counties using our DMV.