Access PEI preparing for busy days ahead as driver's licence fees to be reinstated Jan. 1

Access PEI says Islanders can expect longer lines and wait times as the deadline to renew driver's licences at no cost gets closer.  

On Jan. 1, a five-year licence will cost Islanders $116. Registration fees will also increase for gas-powered vehicles. Hybrid vehicle registration will continue to cost half the price of gas-powered vehicles, while electric vehicles will continue to be free. 

In order to avoid the fees, Islanders who have a licence or registration that expires within five months of the Jan. 1 deadline can renew early. But if you renew after Jan. 1, expect to pay the new fee. 

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Mark Arsenault, director of Access PEI, said the agency has seen a 30 per cent increase in the number of licence renewals.

In preparing for the busy days ahead, Arsenault said he's made some staffing changes in order to meet the increased demand. 

"We took a look at, you know, our operational model and we had to reduce, you know, break times or lunchtimes and sort of move those around so that we stay staffed up," Arsenault said. 

"We've been meeting with the management team regularly. The other side obviously is getting prepared for the changes that are coming January 2nd and we've been working closely with our IT group who have been wonderful." 

Change of plans

The fees were scrapped earlier this year to offset the one cent rise in gas tax that came into effect in April. The move to reinstate fees was announced in November by the PC government. 

The fees will be put into a new $5-million active transportation plan. It aims to improve paths and roadways to promote walking and cycling. 

Travis Kingdon/CBC

Arsenault said he doesn't know exactly how much longer wait times are, but that it's busier in the morning and at the lunch hour.  

"As far as Islanders, they've been, you know, understanding throughout the process," he said. 

Arsenault said Access PEI has also moved some services like fleet registration to centres outside of Charlottetown and Summerside to alleviate some of the workload from employees. 

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