Island Residents, State Representatives Decry Nantucket’s Beleaguered RMV Office

State Vows To Add New Staff Soon

Nantucket has largely recovered from the COVID-19 pandemic. The same can’t be said for the island’s state-run Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) office.

More than two years since the initial lockdown, the Nantucket RMV office located in the Town & County Building on Broad Street is still limping along with just one full-time employee, resulting in a limited number of in-person appointments and no road tests available on-island. Nantucketers are routinely traveling off-island and even to Martha’s Vineyard to get appointments and road tests. The severe lack of service for island residents now has Nantucket’s state representatives – Sen. Julian Cyr and Rep. Dylan Fernandes – once again calling the RMV on the carpet.

“The Registry of Motor Vehicles needs to reopen the Nantucket RMV to its full capacity, including accessibility during regular business hours and the availability of on-island road tests,” Fernandes and Cyr said in a joint statement issued on Tuesday. “The RMV’s inaction continues to put a financial strain on families and businesses who are forced to travel off island, costing hundreds of dollars and many hours, in order to conduct basic transactions and inquiries that cannot be completed online. The current process is creating potential liabilities as important appointments are delayed. It is long past time to fully reopen Nantucket’s RMV to the public.”

Nearly everyone on Nantucket seems to trading RMV-related tales of woe these days. One recent experience brought island resident Mara Lancey to tears.

“I recently tried to get an RMV appointment for an ‘in person only’ transaction,” Lancey said. “I was told by the RMV that my best bet would be to book an appointment on the Cape or Vineyard, as Nantucket didn’t have any available appointments and those locations had plenty. I was so frustrated it actually brought me to tears. Not everyone can snap their fingers to take off work, pay for travel, even coordinate child care etc, let alone our elderly community or anyone living on island with a disability.”

Island resident Angelina Knapp told the Current this week that she and her 16-year-old step-son Braden just flew to Martha’s Vineyard to get him his learner’s permit. When Braden turned 16 in February, there were “no appointments for learner’s permits until the end of March. Yarmouth, Plymouth, and Attleboro were all booked for two weeks or longer. Martha’s Vineyard had availability the entire week, ” Knapp said. “We flew over on Friday and walked to the RMV. They took us in early, were very friendly and accommodating. We had lunch and flew back home. Easy but so ridiculous and expensive!”

Michelle Starr described her near-daily routine of logging on to the RMV website in fruitless attempts to book an in-person appointment.

“Appointments are completely booked every day for the next four weeks,” Starr said. “I logged on their site at 5 .m. today to try to book for April 11 – which would have opened today – and five were already booked.”

The Nantucket RMV was completely closed for a full six months at the outset for the pandemic, and only reopened on a limited basis in September 2020. The following year-and-a-half has been a long period of frustration for island residents who have routinely taken to social media to vent their feelings about the lack of service at the RMV.

The office’s one employee politely declined to comment on Tuesday, providing the number for the state Department of Transportation spokesperson. Reached by the Current Tuesday afternoon, Mass DOT spokesperson Judi Riley said help is on the way for Nantucket.

“Please note that the Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) Service Center in Nantucket is currently operating on a full schedule,” Riley said. “At this time, the RMV has one employee working at the Service Center, and is in the process of hiring a second employee for this location.  The RMV anticipates there will be more customer service availability when the additional staff person is hired. In addition, the RMV is going through the process of hiring a road test examiner to work in the South Yarmouth location. The RMV hopes to have a staff member hired and trained by mid-April.”

Riley did not immediately reply to a foll0w-up question about the potential for road tests on Nantucket.

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