TOPEKA — The Kansas Revenue Department switched on its upgraded $40 million Division of Motor Vehicle computer May 8, but the lines still resemble those for the best rides at the biggest amusement parks.
Minus the eventual thrills, of course.
Monday, people in some of the state’s busiest DMV offices continued to wait two to six hours or more for new car tags or titles.
Lines or not, Kansas Revenue Secretary Nick Jordan says the new system is working well across the state.
County treasurers renewed 157,000 car tags during the first 16 business days in June, 29 percent more than during the same period last year, Jordan said. Also issued were 47,000 new-car registrations, nearly 25 percent more than a year ago.
When people finally reach the DMV window, the computers spit out tags and registration slips in about two minutes, new car titles in fewer than 15.
“There’s no way we’re saying things are perfect, but we’re back to normal in 103 of Kansas 105 counties,” Jordan said. “More transactions are being completed and transaction times are faster. Those are the only things we can control.
“The system is working optimally,” Jordan said in a news briefing Monday.
But in at least three of the state’s busiest DMV offices, the estimated waiting time — from taking a number to hearing it called — stretched past six hours Monday in the Kansas City suburbs of Mission and Olathe, the state’s two busiest offices. Topeka’s Shawnee County DMV offices, like those in Johnson County, are closing lines at noon to get people out by 4:30 p.m.
Johnson County’s DMV offices are turning out more tags and titles than last year, but that doesn’t mean all is well, said County Treasurer Tom Franzen.
“Transactions are up, but that’s because we’re making up some of the backlog,” Franzen said.
Kansas shut down DMV operations for a week because of the computer switch, producing a bottleneck of tag and title applications.
“We’re almost caught up with handling the volume we were doing before the switch,” Franzen said. “Our next hurdle is just getting through the end of this month.”
Shawnee County Treasurer Larry Wilson said he didn’t know when the lines would diminish.
“It’s like years ago, when we went from driving stick shifts to automatic transmissions,” Wllson said. “It’s a process. It takes time.”
Wilson has ordered DMV offices in Topeka closed June 26, during what historically is a weeklong rush to beat end-of-month deadlines. Shawnee County needs the time to process postal applications for new tags, which have been piling up.
“Those folks deserve the same conscientious service, too.” he said.
Wichita area DMV offices, in the state’s second largest metro area after Kansas City’s Johnson County, are working “about 200 percent better than when we talked in May,” Sedgwick County Treasurer Linda Kizzire told Kansas Reporter.
“But we’re still doing extra work dealing with licenses in May that were extended to the end of June,” she said. “After July, I think we’ll be in good shape.”