The notoriously unloved California Department of Motor Vehicles has just published some new data touting the fact that wait-times across the state for those arriving at DMV locations without an appointment have been cut in half over the last year.
Average wait times for September 2019 were allegedly just 38 minutes, or a little more than half the 73-minute average waits recorded the previous September. As the Sacramento Bee reports, the DMV is crediting "increased staffing and season shifts in customer volume," as well as a substantial decline in the amount of time arriving customers spend waiting to get a number. Nonetheless, the Bay Area and Los Angeles DMV offices are still the ones pushing the averages up.
The overall decrease in waits is good news given the expected uptick in volume at DMV offices in 2020 due to the federally mandated Real ID program. Under that program, beginning October 1, 2020, you will no longer be able to use a standard driver's license at TSA checkpoints at airports, but you will need to get a new Real ID issued at a DMV office following an in-person appearance. The DMV is expecting around 10 million Californians to be clamoring for Real IDs in the next ten months, with wait times in July, August, and September of next year more than likely to be horrific.
"If your identification card or driver license expires after the federal enforcement date, and you need a REAL ID sooner, we encourage you to apply now,” says CA DMV director Steve Gordon in a statement.
As the Sac Bee notes, the DMV set a goal last year to limit wait times for those with appointments to 15 minutes, and to 45 minutes for those without appointments. Everyone who's visited the Panhandle DMV office in San Francisco knows that this goal typically isn't met — data shows that people with appointments in the Bay Area and Los Angeles, on average, still wait 20 minutes, and those without appointments wait nearly an hour in LA and 36 minutes at the San Francisco office. The worst wait times in the Bay Area are in Daly City (70 minutes without an appointment), Redwood City (57 minutes w/o) and Oakland/Coliseum (56 minutes w/o).
And as many already know, up in Corte Madera it is usually smooth sailing, with an average wait of 28 minutes if you don't have an appointment, and 12 minutes if you do.
Photo: Julianne O./Yelp