If you are planning to apply for a driving licence in Mumbai, be prepared for a long wait.
Believe it or not, those who applied for permanent driving licences for four-wheelers at the Andheri RTO on Tuesday were given appointments for August 16. This means they have to wait for six months to appear for their driving tests.
The minimum gap between date of application and date of appointment for permanent driving licences is two-three months at all three RTOs in the city, while the same for learning licences is two months.
According to sources in motor training schools, the earliest available appointments for permanent driving licences at Tardeo, Andheri and Wadala RTOs are May 18, August 14 and April 30 respectively, while dates for two-wheeler licences are May 16, April 30 and April 30 respectively.
Even for learning licences, all appointment slots are full for the next two months at Andheri and Wadala RTOs, and till May 5 at the Tardeo RTO.
Sources have attributed the delay to a limited daily quota for online appointments, shortage of manpower and malpractice by some agents and motor training schools.
In order to eliminate agents from RTOs and ensure that driving licences are issued only after tests are conducted, the motor vehicle department three months ago made online appointments mandatory for both learning and permanent licences, across the state. Those in need of licences now need to log into the sarathi.nic.in website and apply for appointments.
According to RTO sources, the daily quota of maximum applications is responsible for the delayed appointment dates. “We appoint five officials daily for driving tests, and each of them take care of around 50 licences,” said a senior official, requesting anonymity.
He added that RTOs cannot spare more than five officials per day for the task, though there is a demand from motor training schools to increase the daily quota of appointments.
For permanent driving licences, the daily quota of appointments is 250 at Tardeo RTO, 450 at Andheri RTO and 300 at Wadala RTO.
According to RTO sources, there are a fixed number of slots for different categories of vehicles, which are not adjusted according to the applications received in each category. Before the online appointment system, RTO offices used to issue about 350-800 licences a day, a maximum of which were issued by the Andheri RTO.
A motor training school owner said he has to book appointment slots after midnight. “It’s become like getting a railway ticket. A few minutes after appointment dates are released, the slots get filled,” he said. An RTO official said dummy booking could be responsible.
Prabhakar Bhalerao, official at the Andheri RTO, said the online appointment system has brought down the number of licences issued, but made the system transparent. “We used to issue 800 licences earlier, which has been brought down to half. This is why people are getting appointments after such long periods. But the appointment system is transparent,” he said.
* The motor vehicles department has introduced online appointment system for both learning and permanent driving licences
* The online appointment system was introduced on pilot basis in Andheri RTO in 2013, which was later replicated in other RTOs
* Online appointments became mandatory for learning licences since August 2014, and for permanent driving licences since December 2014
* The National Informatics Centre (NIC) has developed the appointment systems