It was opening day, so wait time was minimal as people entered a new driver’s licensing office in Derby on Tuesday.
Keith Kimball, who lives in Derby, walked in before noon, used a touch screen to get a ticket, and heard his number called instantly.
“Wow,” he said.
As he started for the window, he said it again.
Kimball, who was there to renew his license, was in and out in 15 minutes. Usually, he renewed at the licensing office in Andover.
“Better than what it was at Andover,” Kimball said. “If they keep it a secret, it’ll be great.”
Meanwhile, wait time Tuesday at the driver’s licensing office in Twin Lakes Shopping Center at 21st and Amidon in Wichita was two hours. Or more.
Shawn Price and her son, Avery, who just turned 17 and had to take a driving test, signed up electronically at 7:30 a.m. for a spot in line at Twin Lakes and were told they had a wait of 107 minutes.
At 12:43 p.m., they were still waiting.
“We just haven’t figured out how 107 minutes turned into five and a half hours,” Shawn Price said. “Apparently time stops while you’re in here.”
The new Derby office, in the Bristol Square Shopping Center, 620 N. Rock Road, was opened by the Kansas Department of Revenue to help relieve crowding at Twin Lakes and other licensing offices in the region. The Derby office gives Sedgwick County two offices for the first time in more than a decade.
Complaints of long waits had been common, especially in Sedgwick County, and offices experienced a spike in activity over the summer because of an expected influx of teenage drivers and an unexpected increase in concealed-carry license transactions, according to the department.
In 2012, driver’s licensing offices in the state handled 16,541 concealed-carry transactions.
In 2013, they have handled 23,138 new or renewing concealed-carry license transactions through July, compared with 7,042 during the same seven months in 2012, the department said.
Kansas Secretary of Revenue Nick Jordan attended the opening of the Derby office, as did state representatives Pete DeGraaf, Steve Brunk and Jim Howell. Gov. Sam Brownback will attend a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the office Oct. 23.
“This is in response to Kansans, this is in response to the demand we saw this summer,” Jordan said.
It made sense to put a new office in the fast-growing area of Derby, he said.
“It kind of gets tiresome for us to turn on the TV at night and hear comedians making fun of DMVs,” Jordan said. “We hope we can change that trend and make it a good experience for customers.”
Donna Shelite, director of vehicles, said the state looked at the population within a seven-mile radius of Andover, Twin Lakes and Derby to find a location that would improve service in the area.
She said a Derby location also should relieve pressure on the Sumner County treasurer’s office by drawing customers from the northern part of the county.
Derby City Manager Kathy Sexton said the office will help McConnell Air Force Base personnel.
“A lot of people at McConnell come in and out, so they constantly are trying to figure out our Kansas system of tag offices,” she said. “This is just much more convenient for them. A lot of them live in Derby, and even if you don’t live in Derby, this is a 10-minute drive from McConnell.”
The Derby office is the latest in a series of changes intended to improve driver’s license services in the area. The revenue department has begun full-time Monday service at five of the busiest stations. Driver’s licensing offices had been open Tuesday through Friday since 1984, though some have been open Mondays during the summer.
The department also added employees in Andover and opened a new office that tripled the size of the old one.
Jordan said the department also is planning to experiment with evening hours at some locations, probably starting in Johnson County and, if successful, moving to Wichita.
The 4,542-square-foot Derby office, costing $14 per foot, was funded by revenue department fees, Jordan said.
The office has 10 full-time staff members and, like the other offices, will be open Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. Testing will not begin after 4 p.m.
The office will handle concealed-carry license transactions, as well. It won’t handle commercial driver’s licenses, which can be obtained at the Twin Lakes office.
It also features the QLess line-management system, which allows people to get in line online before they head to the office. Derby customers can text Derby DL to 626-609-1234 or get in line on their computers at http://www.ksrevenue.org/qless.html. The system keeps track of a customer’s place in line and sends text messages as they near the front.