WETHERSFIELD >> The state Department of Motor Vehicles closed the Milford and Derby service centers as of July 24, citing customer service concerns.

The “temporary” move drew reaction from state legislators on both sides of the aisle, who questioned the DMV’s chief’s reasons for the closures.

Some of the lawmakers went so far as to issue calls for considering privatization of the department.

The DMV move is part of its developing strategy to strengthen customer services in its core full-service branch offices and help alleviate long wait times in the two small offices, it said in a release last week.

The two offices were open only two days a week and staffed by two DMV employees.

DMV Commissioner Michael Bzdyra has said the lines in the Milford office “have become just too long, and any closure would ripple into Derby where lines are also growing.”

“Returning four staff workers to full-service DMV offices, where there’s also high demand Tuesday through Saturday, will help improve service overall where we serve many more people,” Bzdyra said in the release.

‘CHRONIC issue’

House Minority Leader Themis Klarides, R-Derby, said the office wait time has been a “chronic issue that DMV has continually ignored.”

“Shutting down the Derby and Milford small service centers will not solve this issue and will only cause more problems and headaches for residents throughout the state,” Klarides said in a release.

State Rep. Charles Ferraro, R-West Haven, said the DMV service has been inadequate for years and he called for the state to consider privatization.

“I have been vocal about the substandard service at the DMV and the need to look at privatizing the department. We should start moving in that direction as soon as possible,” Ferraro said in a release.

“Their decision to abruptly stop services at the Milford DMV branch will cause greater problems, and the quality of service will continue to decrease,” Ferraro said.

State Rep. Nicole Klarides-Ditria, R-Seymour, said her constituents “will now have to travel farther and wait in longer lines for simple services that should take minutes not hours.”

Klarides-Ditria, who represents Seymour, Beacon Falls and part of Derby, echoed Ferraro’s privatization call.

“It is time for the state to start looking at ways to privatize services and to get back to the negotiating table with AAA to work out a deal to have them start providing services in New Haven and Fairfield counties again,” she said.

‘SIMPLY UNACCEPTABLE’

State Rep. Kim Rose, D-Milford, said the closing was “simply unacceptable as many Milford residents rely on this local DMV to take care of their automotive documentation and license needs.”

“I had been working and in negotiations with the governor, the mayor of Milford and the DMV commissioner about the issue of long lines at this branch and to keep this DMV open,” Rose said in a release.

Rose said she will continue to work to find a resolution.

ALTERNATIVES

Bzdyra said the public has alternatives.

• Licensing customers will soon have an online option. DMV is working to enhance its licensing to include “skip-a-trip,” which would mean customers could do one six-year license renewal online before needing to visit an office.

“We expect this enhanced service to be available next year,” Bzdyra said.

• Customers can go to other nearby full-service offices in Hamden, Bridgeport and Waterbury. A full list of DMV offices can be found at ct.gov/dmv/offices.

Bzdyra said the agency has been working on making a number of changes to improve DMV services for more than a year.

“Our review will give us the opportunity to continue that process,” he said.

DMV’s menu of online services can be found at ct.gov/dmv. The agency encourages customers to check its website first before going into an office for services.

“They may find they can do it from home or work computer, smartphone or tablet,” the release said.