The West

Two-month wait  for drive  test
Slow road: Perth learner drivers have to wait longer for tests. Picture: The West Australian

Waiting times for driving tests have ballooned across Perth, with one metropolitan licensing centre unable to accept bookings for up to two months.

Figures released by the Department of Transport for December 10 showed that waiting times averaged about seven working days across all city licensing centres.

A survey by _The West Australian _ yesterday revealed that in the three weeks since then, waiting times at several centres have increased dramatically. Most centres could not accept driving test bookings until next month.

The worst was Joondalup, with Transport Minister Troy Buswell later revealing that the waiting time at Joondalup and Mandurah was 38 working days.

The best were West Perth and Welshpool, with vacancies as early as next Thursday.

The blowout comes after an internal executive memo sent to the department's director-general Reece Waldock in November - and obtained by _The West Australian _ - highlighted concerns about Government budget cuts and staff freezes, prompting union fears of longer licensing centre queues and driving test waiting times.

The memo said new staff ceilings, calculated in accordance with budget-saving measures implemented by Treasury, were "significantly short of what is required for the driver and vehicles services division to operate satisfactorily".

Waiting times can fluctuate from day to day and are dependent on the timing of the release of new appointment sessions.

With many novice drivers forced to book a test well in advance, there are often cancellations and earlier bookings can become available.

Mr Buswell said January was a busy time for tests and 5578 had so far been booked for the month.

He said the department had been monitoring demand closely and had increased the number of driver assessors by four last year.

"Budget savings measures have had no effect on front line services," Mr Buswell said.

One driving instructor, who did not wish to be named, said the system lacked transparency.

She said novice drivers were put under more pressure by often being forced to book in advance and before they were ready.

Shadow transport minister Ken Travers said the Government was misleading the public about the state of waiting times.

He said Mr Buswell had too many other things on his mind and was not focused on fixing the problem.

The West Australian

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