Nfld. & Labrador

Big uptake for in-person appointments at Motor Vehicle Registration crashes system

Counter service at Motor Vehicle Registration locations was suspended in March. This week, in-person appointment became available, and the flood of calls caused some glitches in the system.

Glitch led to some appointments being confirmed in error

Only five people are allowed at the counter at one time, while five people can sit in the waiting area and another five need to wait outside. (Cal Tobin/CBC)

So many people tried to get an in-person appointment at the province's Motor Vehicle Registration offices this week that the system crashed, leading to throngs of people showing up at some locations.

"The volume of appointment requests and phone calls was considerably larger than we anticipated," said Service NL Minister Tom Osborne.

"That caused some glitches in the system."

The restart of in-person appointments comes after almost four months; counter services were suspended in March during the height of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Osborne said because of the calls flooding the reservation system this week, "some people were getting confirmation of their appointments and some people thought they had confirmation, but their appointments were not actually confirmed."

"That glitch caused some confusion and more people lined up outside Motor Vehicle Registration than we would have liked to have seen or customers would have liked to have seen," he said.

Osborne said the problems have been smoothed out, and the call volume has since decreased. 

There are new rules in place at the centres, as physical distancing needs to be adhered to. In total, 15 people can be accommodated at one time, Osborne explained, but that means five people at a wicket/being served, five people in the waiting area and five people waiting outside.

Online uptake sees uptick

Osborne said the government has had "huge success" with online services.

Ninety-eight per cent of vehicle renewals have been done online, compared with 75 per cent during the same period last year.

Driver's licence renewals saw an even bigger uptick, with 96 per cent done online compared with just 47 per cent in the same time in 2019.

In late June, the government announced that copies of driver abstracts would be available online for up to seven days once they're purchased. People could also pay for their road test online before taking it.

Osborne admitted that some services are not available online, so in-person appointments are the only option for some people, depending on their requirements.

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

With files from Janelle Kelly