RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC)- The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles is rolling out a plan to resume walk-in services starting next month but only on certain days.
Beginning Oct. 5, DMV Customer Service Centers will continue to operate under an appointment-only system on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. On Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, the agency will only accept walk ins.
The alternating schedule is a response to a General Assembly mandate passed during the August special session. State lawmakers frustrated with long wait times for appointments during the pandemic gave the agency 30 days to come up with a plan to resume same day service and another 30 days to implement it.
DMV Commissioner Richard Holcomb said they’ve been operating through appointments since May of 2020 after a temporary closure caused by the coronavirus.
Holcomb said the system has been popular with many customers because it eliminates unpredictable lines and allows them to plan their day better. He also points out that the agency is doing more transactions per week than before the pandemic, partly because more services have been moved online.
“We certainly will admit that there were some transactions that people needed to get done much quicker,” Holcomb said when asked if he would’ve supported the change if it wasn’t required. “We really think this hybrid approach answers everyone’s needs.”
Holcomb said trying to offer appointments and walk in services at the same time caused confusion and frustration in other states, which is why they opted for the alternating daily schedule.
During the appointment-only period, customers expressed they were having issues scheduling an appointment. However, a survey conducted by the DMV found that 77% of respondents wanted to keep the option to schedule an appointment.
“We want to follow it along and see if it’s working the way we hope it will work or whether adjustments need to be made. So at this point I will not say this is a long-term solution,” Holcomb said.
Some challenges are already emerging. Holcomb said staff are working to reschedule about 25,000 appointments booked before the plan was finalized. He said their goal is to do so within a week of the original date.
With the expectation of larger crowds, prevention measures are already in place, including plexiglass separating staff, signs encouraging customers to wear masks and hand sanitizer at every window.
Holcomb said waiting room seats will continue to be reduced, even on walk-in days.
“We will try to control the crowds so we don’t have people sitting on top of each other but viewers should know if they pick a walk-in day they should be prepared for a wait,” Holcomb said.
Holcomb said, under the alternating system, available appointments will be cut down by about 48 percent. He said that makes it even more important that people cancel appointments they can’t make it to. He said the agency has had 900,000 no shows since May 2020.