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MVA will remove self-service vehicle registration machine

September 25, 2000

MVA will remove self-service vehicle registration machine



By ANDREW SCHOTZ / Staff Writer

see also: Local kiosk least-used in state

The Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration will remove a self-service vehicle registration machine from a Hagerstown grocery store Oct. 3.

Not enough people were using the kiosk, which has been at Martin's Food Market on Dual Highway since January 1998, said MVA spokesman Richard M. Scher.

Several customers buying groceries a few feet from the machine last Friday were unaware it existed.

"I would use it," said Cindy Panicola of Hagerstown. "Anything to save you a trip to motor vehicles."

About 1,200 transactions were logged at the Hagerstown kiosk in 1999, Scher said.

The MVA installed 11 self-service machines in malls and shopping centers across the state, starting in April 1997.

Five are being removed next month. "They have not performed as well as we hoped," Scher said.

The remaining six will be replaced next year with higher-tech models. Scher said the transaction time will be cut from about 5 minutes to about 2 minutes.

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Even without the kiosk, people who don't want to go to an MVA office can re-register by phone or over the Internet.

In 11 of the state's 23 counties, people can also renew their registrations at county treasurer's offices. That option is available in Frederick County, but not in Washington County.

The kiosk in Martin's is near the end of the checkout lines, next to machines that count coins and sell lottery tickets.

Grocery Manager Desmond Durning said it's in a very visible spot.

"People have had nothing but high praise" for the MVA machine, although it broke down a few times, he said.

Standing with a cartful of groceries, Nancy Fizer of Keedysville said she would have used the kiosk had she known about it. "I hate standing in line at motor vehicles," she said.

David Manley of Boonsboro, who recently renewed his registration, said he lives closer to the MVA office off Md. 65 than to Martin's. But he would prefer the self-service machine to re-registering his car through the mail, he said.

To use the self-service machines, vehicle owners must know the numbers of their titles, license plates, insurance policies and driver's licenses.

A modem connects registrants to a network server at 56,000 bits per second.

The six new machines will have modems that are more than twice as fast. They will use the Internet to verify credit cards, cutting the time of transactions, Scher said.

Instead of getting their registrations and stickers on the spot, vehicle owners will receive temporary passes and receipts, Scher said. The permanent card and sticker will arrive in the mail within five to 10 business days, he said.

In 1998, MVA Administrator Anne S. Ferro said that by 2000, the kiosks might issue hunting, fishing and driver's licenses.

Those services aren't available now, but they're "still in the long-range plans," Scher said.

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