By Betsy Dolan
Motorists will be able to run errands, go to work, or hang out at home while awaiting their turn in the driver’s license line once a new Texas Department of Public Safety driver’s license mega center opens in Rosenberg in December.
In response to widespread complaints over long waits for driver’s licenses around Texas, DPS decided to build six mega centers–one in the Austin area and five others in Houston, San Antonio and Dallas-Fort Worth. The Houston mega centers will be in Spring and Rosenberg.
“The single most visible sign of dysfunction in government is the long lines wrapped around the driver’s license offices in this state,” said Texas Public Safety Commission Chair A. Cynthia Leon at the ribbon cutting for the Austin center last week. “I had to wait in line for two hours once, so I feel your pain.”
The Rosenberg center, which will be inside the old Kmart building at 28000 Southwest Freeway, will be similar to the facility in Austin with roughly two dozen customer service stations and 50 employees. The number of people served by each mega center will vary but will be at least 700 a day, said DPS spokesman Tom Vinger.
Officials emphasized customer-friendly technology at the new centers including a “queuing system” that will allow people to reserve a spot in line before getting to the office by using their cell phones or the Internet. They also can check in at the facility using self-service kiosks.
The system will enable a customer to find out how much time remains before his turn, meaning one does not have to be at the DPS facility during the entire wait.
The system will generate texts to remind a person as his turn at the counter nears. One can request additional time if he is not ready.
DPS currently operates a facility in Rosenberg near the Southwest Freeway and Avenue N but customers have complained for years about long lines and wait times.
“It almost feels like DPS is giving us a Christmas present,” said Rosenberg resident Darrin Ortega. “I have wasted so much time standing in line. This will be much more convenient.”
Vinger said DPS selected Rosenberg for one of the mega center locations based upon population density studies measuring growth trends and the availability of suitable locations.
The Texas Legislature allocated $63 million for the mega centers, including money to hire 266 employees and buy equipment and technology.
All mega centers are on track to open by the end of January 2013. The opening dates for specific locations will be announced as soon as the facilities are ready to open for business.