New driver’s license office opens east of town

By Corene Brisendine

The new Kansas Driver’s License Office that opened today in Manhattan will offer patrons more space and a better system for waiting — if they can find it.

The new office in the Heritage Commons shopping center, 8200 South Port Drive, Suite 105, provides much larger space and a new ticketing system that allows people to get in line via the Internet or text message.

The new facility is largely the result of customers complaining about long lines and even longer waiting times at the old office on Anderson Avenue.

“The larger space allows growth for the community — and Manhattan is definitely a growing community,” said Jeannine Kolanda, public information officer for the Kansas Department of Revenue. “And it has updated technology.”

Inside the corner office are two seating sections, a 32-inch touch-screen kiosk for signing in to the waiting system with a paper ticket printer, private booths for test-taking, two big-screen TVs suspended from the ceiling on either side of the customer service area that show the wait times for all persons in line, and four numbered lanes where customer service representatives assist all driver’s license needs.

In the old office, the waiting section was crammed next to a roped-off area for test taking, and the lanes were along a narrow corridor with only two places for ID pictures to be taken. The new setup is open and spacious, and all four stations have picture-taking capabilities.

The old system required customers to go to the office and pick up a paper ticket numbered 1-99. Because there was no timer, customers would have to sit in the office waiting as long as several hours for their numbers to be called. The new system is not only computerized, it is also online.

“They basically get their ticket by signing in online,” said Jeannine Kolanda, public information officer for the Kansas Department of Revenue. “They don’t have to go to the office to get in line.”

With the new system, Kolanda said people needing to renew or get a new driver’s license can sign in to the automated system online at The system notifies the customer 30 minutes in advance that they need to make their way to the office to wait for their number to be called.

Another option is for customers to get in line by sending a text message from a cell phone. To do so, they can send a text, “Manhattan DL,” to (714) 333-1234 to get in line. Thirty minutes before the ticket number comes up in the queue, the system sends the customer a text.

Although the system included the other four offices that offered the new online services, it had not been updated to include Manhattan as of Tuesday morning when the new office opened for business. Kolanda said she would make sure the system was updated to include the new Manhattan office and new address on the website before noon, but the text message service was already in place and operational.

Josh Bayless, Manhattan, came to the office Tuesday because it was his birthday and he needed to renew his license. He said the service seemed to be faster, but the difficult part was finding the new office. He did not use the online system before coming to the office and his waiting time was about 3 minutes. The office opened at 7 a.m. By the time Bayless arrived about 7:45 a.m., the new office had already served 58 customers.

He said he called the office before leaving his house to ask where the new office was located. He said the person told him it was next to Rambler’s Steakhouse, but he assumed it was the old location of Rambler’s Steakhouse and drove to the intersection of Dempsey Road and US Highway 24, passing the new location on the corner of US-24 and South Port Drive, one stoplight past Dick Edwards.

While the new system did nothing to help customers find the new office — beyond providing an address — the online system has so far seemed to reduce wait times. Kolanda said the department is not planning to implement the system at all 112 offices across the state, but only at the busiest offices.

She said the system allows the offices to remain small but serve customers in a timely manner. The Manhattan office has three full-time customer service associates and one temporary customer service associate, but the temporary service member had been with the office for an extended period of time. She said the department is looking at implementing the next online system in Andover.

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