Transportation secretary on Real ID backlog: ‘We’re ramping up’ |

Transportation secretary on Real ID backlog: ‘We’re ramping up’

Nicole C. Brambila

Pennsylvania Transportation Secretary Leslie Richards told a state senate committee Monday she’s not concerned about a backlog of requests for Real ID cards that many residents plan to use for domestic air travel next year.

“We’re ramping up and we feel very comfortable where we are right now,” Richards told state Sen. Kim Ward, vice chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, which held a budget hearing with PennDOT.

Ward, R-Hempfield, told the Tribune-Review last week she’s baffled that PennDOT has hired only about half of the additional staff needed to help issue Real IDs. Ward on Monday said Richards assured her that staffing will soon be at full capacity.

Two weeks ago, PennDOT had a backlog of more than 30,000 online requests from Pennsylvania residents. They were looking to have documents verified in order to obtain the federally-enhanced cards and skip the lines at the Department of Motor Vehicles.

Transportation officials have since whittled that number down to 14,000, although some report waiting weeks or months to receive word that PennDOT has electronic copies of their documents.

Congress passed the Real ID act in response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The act establishes federal security standards for state driver’s licenses and ID cards. Pennsylvania is one of a dozen states that have been granted an extension for implementing Real ID.

Real ID in Pennsylvania is optional. But after the Oct. 1, 2020 federal deadline, a federally compliant identification such as an enhanced driver’s license or passport will be required to fly domestically or enter a military base or federal building.

An estimated 2.5 million Pennsylvanians are expected to opt for a Real ID. About 300,000 people had applied by Feb. 19.

PennDOT is expected to start issuing federally-compliant driver’s licenses and ID cards next month.

To date, the agency has opened five new ID centers and retrofitted seven others, Richards told senators Monday. These 12 Real ID centers will allow cardholders who bring to the DMV their birth certificate, Social Security card and two proofs of address to walk out with a license.

The Pittsburgh region, however, only has one Real ID center, located in Bridgeville.

Real IDs obtained at other drivers’ license centers will be mailed within 15 business days.

Nicole C. Brambila is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Nicole at 724-226-7704, [email protected] or via Twitter .

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