ON: DriveTest hires more staff to handle backlog

Rarely have so many people looked forward to taking a driving test.

More than 150 people were lined up outside the DriveTest Centre at Victoria Terrace shopping mall Monday when road tests and all driving examination services resumed in the province after a four-month strike that began Aug. 24. Stephannie Tait, 22, was the first in line. The Centennial College paramedic student showed up at 8:30 a.m., not knowing the centre wouldn’t open until 1 p.m. But she said the line didn’t start growing until noon.

At 1:05 p.m., five minutes after the examination centre was supposed to open, the shivering crowd was getting restless. “C’mon, let us in,” one person shouted, while others banged on the windows and gestured to staff inside by pointing to their watches. Tait hopes to get a Class F licence so she can drive an ambulance and will be able to apply for jobs when she graduates in the spring. Most of the 150 people lined up in the cold on Monday were there because they needed a licence for employment. Rafael Villan, who is trying to get his school bus licence, has been working odd jobs as a mechanic during the DriveTest strike. He said he already has a job lined up.

They are waiting for me (to get the licence),” he said. “I’m finally ready to work.” Examiners voted Dec. 31 to end the strike. Road tests booked for any time after 1 p.m. Monday will be honoured. But any test scheduled before 1 p.m. Monday was cancelled and customers will have to rebook on a first-come, first-serve basis. The company, which administers driving tests for the province, is asking customers to wait two to three weeks before booking appointments, so they can accommodate backlog caused by the strike. Centres in some remote areas will open Tuesday. Although DriveTest has hired additional staff to deal with the backlog, it still expects longer wait times than usual and is asking customers to arrive at least half an hour before their tests. Those who need a written or vision test can visit a DriveTest centre without booking an appointment. A full list of locations is available at www.drivetest.ca. The ministry states on its website that drivers with expired licences will not be able to book their road tests online, but will have to call an operator during regular business hours at 1-888-570-6110.