By Len Ramirez

SAN JOSE (KPIX) — The head of California’s Department of Motor Vehicles is on a listening tour as she finds herself under pressure to fix the long lines and exasperating waiting times we’ve all experienced.

Director Jean Shiomoto says that’s why she’s doing a road-show tour of DMV offices across the state, talking to workers and getting ideas on how to make it better for the customers.

“It means a lot for me to get out and talk to employees and making sure they know they have my full support and also get their feedback on suggestions for how we can improve our processes.”

Earlier this month, Shiomoto was grilled by lawmakers after horror stories came out of customers waiting four to six hours at DMV offices.

Shiomoto has resisted calls for a DMV audit, saying that would shift resources away from customer service and possibly make things even worse.

“We’re doing a review of all our transactions to achieve efficiency and if there was an audit we’d be responsive to it,” she said.

Shiomoto said the DMV has approval to hire 230 more workers and she’s shifted staff from administration to field locations to serve the public directly.

Employees now triage customers on arrival to ensure they have everything they need before they start waiting. Many DMV offices are now opening an hour earlier and adding Saturday hours to cut down wait times.

“I was in Redwood City about six months ago and it was a total disaster,” said Menlo Park resident Joe Cooper. “I was there about six or seven hours.”

Cooper says that was for his own ID card. Wednesday he helped his wife get hers.

“Today it was one hour,” said Cooper. “So things are definitely working much better.” He also said he made an appointment this time, which helped.

Customers at the San Jose DMV without appointments told us they were in and out in under two hours today. But others say booking appointments is where the waiting is now, up to two months in busy locations like San Jose.

Next month, the DMV plans to open more self-service kiosks at some Safeway and Pak ’N Save markets so people can renew their car registrations and get their current stickers and avoid coming to DMV offices altogether.

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