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Better DMVs Needed

By Matthew Yglesias  

"Better DMVs Needed"

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Most middle class people have relatively few direct interactions with the government, and consequently I think it’s more important than people generally realize to try to improve the quality of those interactions. Keith Humphreys observes, for example, of a recent trip to the Department of Motor Vehicles:

Like most DMVs around the country, this one set its weekly hours to correspond with the times when most Americans are at work and cannot go to the DMV. As a small concession to serving those whose taxes pay for the DMV to exist in the first place, this office was open on Saturday mornings from 8am to noon. I arrived at 7:30am to avoid a line. Too late: it already snaked back a hundred feet and around one corner of the building. By the time 8am rolled around, it wrapped back several hundred yards until people were standing next to, you guessed it, the protestor, who got a receptive audience as he railed at the government.

The last time I went to the DMV, I was able to go during a non-peak hour and found the whole experience to be totally painless. But obviously that’s not an option for many people. And it could be easily changed. The DC DMV’s Southwest Service center is open 37.75 hours a week with its Tuesday – Saturday, 8:15 AM – 4 PM schedule. Suppose instead it was open Saturdays and Sundays from 11AM to 5PM, plus 6-9PM on Wednesday and Friday and 7AM-10AM on Tuesday and Wednesday. I bet that would be more convenient for the vast majority of DC residents. And it would only be 24 hours per week worth of salaries and the hours you’d be asking people to work would hardly be all that odd.

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