SOMERVILLE, NJ - Hundreds of people waited in line again Wednesday outside the Motor Vehicle Commission office on Roosevelt Place, but unlike yesterday, the line stretched out alongside Route 28 (Union Avenue) instead of snaking through the streets of an adjacent residential neighborhood.
Responding to complaints from residents, adjacent to the MVC office, Mayor Dennis Sullivan and the Somerville Police Department had requested the agency yesterday afternoon to direct those waiting outside the office to form a line instead stretching down Roosevelt Place on to the sidewalk that runs parallel to Route 28 (Union Avenue).
But the long wait and frustrations were no different today than yesterday, the first day MVC offices were allowed to open since March, shut down by concerns over the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
Wait times extended for several hours, as the line stretched past Immaculate Conception Cemetery and further east to the Van Derveer School.and past its main entrance.
Similar scenarios played out at MVC offices throughout the state, as thousands of motorists who had waited four months seemed resigned to waiting a few more hours to fill out forms, make payments, register their vehicles or conduct other business.
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And, like Tuesday, people knew what to expect. Some brought coolers stuffed with drinks and food, others brought collapsible chairs and umbrellas to shade themselves from the sun.
People actually showed up late Tuesday night to stake out their place in line, waiting for the MVC office to open Wednesday at 8 a.m.
Jennifer Terepka drove to Somerville from Stockton, arriving at 4:30 a.m. She got one of the last parking spots in the MVC DMV parking lot adjacent to the office at 10 Roosevelt Pl. and was still waiting on line at 9 a.m. She said that when she got in line, there were 100 people ahead of her.
During his daily COVID-19 press conference Wednesday in Trenton, Gov. Phil Murphy addressed the frustrations of New Jerseyans who waited in long lines at the state's Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC) facilities when they reopened this week.
"I completely understand the frustration felt by every customer forced to wait on long lines yesterday at New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC) locations throughout the state," said Murphy, who blamed the lines on months of backlog due to COVID19. "What many experienced was not up to their expectations, or ours, and we will do better. You’re not happy, and neither am I."
The governor added that he does not want anyone camping out overnight at an MVC facility.
"Stay home and stay safe. See if you can conduct business online. Wait a few more days, but, don’t camp out," Murphy said. "If your transaction can be completed through MVC’s online services – use it. Skip the line, skip the trip."
Expiration dates were automatically extended at the beginning of COVID-19 lockdown for the following: driver’s licenses, permits, non-driver IDs, commercial registrations, inspections, and temporary tags.
"I encourage you to take advantage of this extended time to lessen the crowding," said Murphy, adding that there are a lot of things people can do online, such as renewing licenses. "You don't need to go to Motor Vehicles to do that (renew your license)."
To help ease congestion, MVC facilities will remain open on Mondays throughout July – a reversal from prior plans. They now will be open six days a week. Also, to ensure that MVC facilities are not understaffed, the governor is exempting MVC personnel from furloughs of state workers that have been implemented to save money in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis, which has impacted business and state government cash flow.