HOUSTON--It’s high noon at DPS, and the line at South Gessner’s driver’s license office stretches out the door and down the sidewalk.
"I set aside the whole day to try and get this knocked out," said Mike Smith. "Looks like it’s going to take half a day just to get inside the doors."
Across town at the Dacoma office, frustration is running high.
"I can’t afford to continue to take days off," said Rico Valley. "My employer won’t stand for it."
If the line to get a license is long, the wait for an actual road test can be as long two months.
"I don’t think there’s enough knowledge as to why the waits exist," said Tom Carter, a senior regional manager for the Driver’s License Division. "And secondly, that we’re even trying to do anything about it."
The fact is the state’s population has grown 21-percent in the last 10 years, and DPS staffing as remained the same, the result of budget constraints. That changed last legislative session, when state lawmakers set aside $63 million to address the problem.
"We’re building six mega-centers statewide, two of them here in the Houston area," said Carter.
The move will increase staff by 25-percent and reduce average wait times from hours, in some cases to 30 or 45 minutes