- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 3, 2002

Residents stood in long lines in the cold yesterday cursing the District's decision to suddenly revise the hours of operation at Department of Motor Vehicles branches across the city to meet 2003 budget constraints.
A line stretched out the door and along the outside of the DMV office on Brentwood Road in Northeast, where many residents trekked yesterday after discovering the DMV's downtown headquarters no longer operates on Mondays.
"This is no good. People are standing out in the cold here," said William Cain, 68, who huddled on a cement sidewalk outside the DMV with more than a dozen other frustrated customers. "Senior citizens are standing out in the cold."
D.C. officials said the change in hours won't hinder the agency's ability to deliver quality service, although DMV spokeswoman Regina Williams declined to speculate on what effect it would have on how long people are forced to wait in line.
"I think it's going to take a little getting used to for the citizens," she said. "But I don't see how it could be that big of a difference because it's really the exact same hours just at different places."
The change, she said, is that all DMV service centers, with the exception of the city's only vehicle inspection station at 1001 Half St. SW, will now operate on a five-day-a-week schedule. Previously the DMV kept its Georgetown office, at 3222 M St. NW, and the DMV headquarters at 301 C St. NW open on Saturdays. Now DMV headquarters will be the only office open on Saturdays and will be closed Mondays.
The revised hours were put in place in response to budget cuts proposed by D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams in order to achieve a balanced city budget for fiscal 2003. "Keep in mind that every agency across the city was asked to cut significantly as a result of the budget deficit," Mr. Williams said.
Tony Bullock, a spokesman for Mr. Williams, said officials initially considered closing one of the city's four DMV offices, but instead decided on revising the operating schedule "to achieve reduced costs and still provide the highest level of service" without cutting any jobs.
"This is a juggling act," Mr. Bullock said. "The difficult day is going to be Mondays." He added that the city is trying to encourage people to register with the DMV by mail and manage their DMV affairs on the Internet.
That's not so easy to explain to taxpayers who end up waiting outside in the cold for a new license plate. "We do have rights as citizens of the D.C. government," said Mr. Cain, who retired after 44 years as an employee of the D.C. school system.
"If the budget constraints are affecting the flow of honest taxpaying citizens getting their tags renewed, then the cost of the tags should be cut," he said, adding that "the DMV headquarters downtown should always be open, particularly for senior citizens."
William Haynes, who went to the Brentwood DMV yesterday afternoon after finding the headquarters closed in the morning, said: "My lunch break has turned into two hours. Now I'll have to make it up this evening."
The bulk of the spillover from the closed headquarters appeared to have ended up at the Brentwood office rather than the DMV offices on Pennsylvania Avenue in Southeast or at the Georgetown office where some customers said lines were pleasantly short.
"It was amazingly easy; I can't believe it," said Bert H. Cooper, who renewed his registration at the Georgetown office. "I must have been in line no more than five or 10 minutes and once I got in there it was just click, click, click and I was out."
The DMV offers driver's license renewal and vehicle registration services on the Internet at https://dmv.washingtondc.gov.

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