The promise of efficiency and shorter lines at New Jersey's Motor Vehicle Commission left many patrons feeling hopeless Tuesday morning, as centers reopened under a new system for the first time in months due to the COVID-19 shutdown.
Personnel were deployed to the busiest agencies at 6 a.m. in anticipation of the long lines, officials said. The opening day, slated for June 29, was delayed by a week so issues with a new text notification system could be ironed out.
But as patrons turned out in droves Tuesday in hopes of completing transactions they've been waiting on for months, things seemed worse than ever.
"Total mess," Twitter user @sith_holorcon said. "We got there by 7:15 and it was too late to get [in] for the day. They had no one managing the lines so people standing back in the inspection area. Ridiculous. Someone needs to lose their job for this."
There were reportedly only five employees working at the Lodi center, where thousands gathered outside, Adi Vaxman told Daily Voice.
“It’s the most unprepared operation I’ve ever heard of,” Vaxman said. “No social distancing. No masks. And then we wonder why there’s a spike in [COVID-19] cases."
In Middlesex County, Edison police requested assistance mid-afternoon from police departments in adjoining townships to quiet a disturbance at the MVC office on Kilmer Road.
"While we understand the frustration fo our customers in this extremely challenging and difficult time," said NJMVC Chief Administrator Sue Fulton, "our employees are doing the best they can to keep everyone safe and work as efficiently as possible."
Authorities were called to the Newark center on Frelinghuysen Avenue, where between 200 and 300 patrons were being turned away as of 1 p.m. Many people refused.
"You’ve been anticipating this for 3 months and all you did was open 2 hours prior?" Twitter user Justin Tobolsky clapped back. "Your workers are getting paid to tell us to go home so we can sacrifice yet another day’s worth of work. Telling us to go home 5 hours after waiting is absurd."
Logan Wilson described reopening day as "a disaster."
"It’s insane because one [MVC] said they only have two cameras for licenses and it takes 20-30 min to process 1 license," Wilson said on Twitter.
"Do the math, from opening to closing they can only do 50 licenses a day."
Patrons at the Randolph, Hazlet and Bayonne locations experienced similar situations — Canfield Avenue was blocked in both directions with a quarter-mile line down Route 10 West, North Jersey reports.
In Bayonne, the line was backed up numerous blocks down Kennedy Boulevard, and patrons in Hazlet were backed up around the entire Airport Plaza strip mall.
MVC locations will also be closed Mondays through the month of July for ongoing safety assessments.
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