ELIZABETH, NJ — State Sen. Joseph Cryan is calling on the Motor Vehicle Commission to reopen the Elizabeth location it closed in 2010, causing outrage among local officials at that time.
“Since the closure of the Elizabeth MVC office, our residents have been forced to travel to other locations where they wait hours for services and go back numerous times to get their paperwork processed,” Cryan said in a May 10 statement. “The closure has created increased customer volume at the nearby MVC locations, causing significant and inconvenient wait times.”
MVC spokeswoman Mairin Bellack said the agency’s Elizabeth location had been on a month-to-month lease since 1998 and was closed as a cost-savings measure.
“It was the lowest-volume agency in Union County and Newark was located 5 miles away from that agency,” Bellack said in a May 11 phone interview.
A spokeswoman for the city did not respond to a request for comment. Mayor J. Christian Bollwage in 2010 urged then-Gov. Chris Christie not to shutter the agency in the state’s fourth-largest municipality, The Star-Ledger previously reported.
The Bridgeton and Wyckoff MVC locations were also closed along with the Elizabeth facility about eight years ago. The closures impacted employees at the facilities as well as those nearby, the newspaper reported.
The state Senate Transportation Committee endorsed Cryan’s May 10 resolution to urge the MVC to reopen the Elizabeth office. Although Cryan does not sit on that committee, he represents Elizabeth, Hillside, Roselle and Union for the 20th Legislative District.
“Elizabeth is a city of hardworking people who go to work every day and care for their families,” Cryan’s statement read. “It is a diverse community with a large number of low-income residents who support themselves and their families on limited resources.
“Forcing them to travel to Newark, Rahway or other MVC facilities to get the documents they need to have is worse than an inconvenience — it can be a hardship that is unfair and unjustified.”
Bellack said that, in addition to the Rahway and Newark facilities, there are also offices within 15 miles of Elizabeth, including those in Springfield and East Orange. Many MVC services have also been shifted online to customers, further reducing the need for brick-and-mortar offices.
Still, Bellack said the agency is always working with the state Division of Purchase and Property to explore options.
“We are always exploring options on how to better serve New Jerseyans,” she said. “So whether that’s working with DPP, putting more online services, we’re looking always how we can better serve the public.”