Amid Jokes And Groans About Slowness, Arizona’s MVD Cuts Down Wait Times, Hits Record

By Annika Cline
Published: Monday, January 15, 2018 - 2:10pm
Updated: Tuesday, January 16, 2018 - 9:01am

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(Photo by Sky Schaudt - KJZZ)
An Arizona Motor Vehicle Division office in north Phoenix on Nov. 25, 2016.

Almost all of us have been there — waiting in line at a Arizona Motor Vehicle Division (MVD) office for your number to be called.

"62. Guest number 62."

And you’re wondering, "How long is this going to take?"

You and everyone else in the room who isn’t number 62. The feeling is mutual among Americans, and got a long scene in the Disney animated movie, "Zootopia," when the two main characters visit the Department of Mammal Vehicles.

“Wait — they’re all sloths?” exclaims protagonist Judy Hopps when she walks in the office. There she tries to run a plate number, assisted by a sloth ironically named Flash.

“Going to the MVD — we get it. Nobody likes to be in line, nobody likes to have to deal with that. We get the jokes, we’ve seen the movies,” said Doug Nick, a spokesperson with Arizona’s Motor Vehicle Division.

He said they’re pushing back on the slow stereotype with improvements in the office.

In November and December they hit a record — wait times were an average of 22 minutes in urban offices and 18 minutes in rural offices. Two years ago they were almost an hour.

“What you’d do is you’d get the ticket, and then you’d sit down with your smartphone or a good novel or whatever, and you’d wait and you’d hope to hear your number called soon,” Nick said. “And oftentimes maybe you’d think, ‘Oh I gotta go out to the car for something, I gotta use the restroom.’ And of course Murphy’s Law is that that’s when your number gets called, and then you miss it and then you sit there and you sit there. So, what we did is we turned off that disembodied computer voice in most of our offices.”

Now a real human greets you and figures out if there’s anything you need to do before you go up to a counter. Because finding out you didn’t fill out the right form after your number is called bogs down the whole line.

Then there are a bunch of services you don’t even have to go in the building for at all.

“We’ve heard about this internet thing and we think it has a future,” Nick said with a laugh. “And we thought maybe, maybe we ought to do more in this, so you’re gonna hear more about that. In 2018 — I don’t have an exact date — but we’re going to increase more options so that you can actually do your title work electronically, rather than having to go down to the MVD office.”

But if you do end up at the office, you can now expect — on average — to get it done on a lunch break. Rather than wondering whether it’ll take all day.

But, Nick admits, it might take a little while for the jokes to die down.

“It’s not a place that you come to that often, for most people. You may be 10 years between visits,” Nick said.

Now that is a wait time we would all be thankful for.

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