NJ lawmakers: Why is MVC driving people crazy again despite $2B in fees?
RAHWAY — All of the recent computer glitches and long lines at the Motor Vehicle Commission offices have caught the attention of Democratic legislative leaders.
Standing outside the Rahway MVC office Wednesday morning, state Senate President Steve Sweeney announced the Senate Legislative Oversight Committee will hold hearings to try to figure out what’s going on.
“One thing we can remember Gov. McGreevey for is fixing Motor Vehicle. Long waits disappeared, and unfortunately it’s like back to the future now with the waits. It’s unacceptable,” Sweeney said.
Sweeney pointed out a program was started in 2008 to overhaul the computer system at MVC, but it was cancelled in 2015 after the agency paid the developer $16 million.
“Now they’re starting another program, but we can’t wait, nor should it take eight years to overhaul the computer systems of this agency. It’s not fair to the consumers,” he said. “This is 2016. Technology should work in a way that we don’t inconvenience people. It’s unfortunate, this is something we fixed years ago and now we’re back in the same situation.”
Sweeney noted the MVC collects between $1.5 and $2 billion a year from state drivers.
“We pay a whole hell of a lot of fees to run this agency,” he said.
Sweeney's announcement comes almost four months after Gov. Chris Christie made a personal visit, with cameras in tow, to the MVC office in South Plainfield after a Bound Brook resident called New Jersey 101.5's "Ask The Governor" show in April to complain about getting the runaround from the agency.
After the visit, the Christie administration ordered MVC employees to undergo customer service training.
Last month, however, computer glitches left people waiting as many as three to four hours on lines.
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Sweeney on Wednesday pointed out that while Christie has ordered MVC employees to go through customer service training, but “you’ve got to realize you’re putting employees under enormous distress, because they get it, they see people standing in lines, they see people getting angry.
"So it’s not customer service that needs to be fixed. It needs to be the operation, and it starts with the equipment. We would really hope the commissioner will come and express what he sees as the problems.”
State Sen. Bob Gordon, chairman of the state Senate Oversight Committee, said holding hearings is very important.
“I’m hoping they’re going to start in the next three weeks or so. This is an emergent situation,” he said. “It’s hot, people are standing for hours outside of these MVC facilities and we really have to get to the bottom of it.”
He also said MVC problems seem to pop up with regularity.
“Every five years or so we have a meltdown. We need to figure out how to fix things. We’ve spent millions on a computer system that’s not going to be implemented. We need to get to the root of the problem. This doesn’t happen in other states, it doesn’t happen in New York, so we need to find out what’s wrong.’
When asked to comment, Brian Murray, a spokesman for Christie, referred questions to the MVC. Mairin Bellack, the director of communications for the MVC, said the agency has no comment.
Contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com