Long lines outside Walkley DriveTest Centre as G2 testing resumes
OTTAWA -- Long lines formed outside the DriveTest centre on Walkley Road Tuesday, as the province allowed new drivers to take their G2 road tests.
DriveTest centres shut down in March as the COVID-19 pandemic hit, putting the brakes on new drivers across the province.
Some DriveTest locations reopened June 22, but only offered G1 and M1 knowledge tests, driver's licence exchanges and commercial driver's licence applications and upgrades.
People waited in line for hours June 22, a day that reached a high of 34°C in Ottawa, to take their written tests to get their G1 or M1 class licenses.
On Aug. 4, services expanded to offer G1 exit tests, allowing drivers to get their G2 licenses, which frees them from the requirement of having to have an experienced driver in the front passenger seat at all times.
This time, many drivers waited in the rain for a chance to prove they are equipped to drive solo. Many waiting in line told CTV News they've had to reschedule their tests several times and are happy to be able to get it over with today.
Naphate Banzola is a G1 driver, hoping to get his G2. He tells CTV News he needs his license in order to get a promotion.
"I scheduled my test for March and I’ve had to postpone obviously because of the pandemic and everything," he told CTV News. "It's been a little nerve racking of course because for my job I’m required to have a minimum of G2, so that kind of held me back regarding my personal life goals."
Rose Charlebois is another driver whose G2 test had to be postponed.
"It's inconvenient but I'm just happy they're letting us do it now," she said.
Hess Sopa, director of the Universal Driving School in Ottawa says the closure of DriveTest centres has been tough on many students who were expecting to get their G2 early. If you take a licensed driving course in Ontario, you can take a G1 exit test after eight months, instead of a year.
"It’s been very harsh for students, because some of them start in March of last year and they were expecting to do it in 8 months," Sopa said. "One of my students, she actually cancelled three times, like again and again because of the pandemic. They were like, let’s book it and then do it again."
Sopa expects to see new drivers possibly waiting into the new year to get a test, given the backlog.
The Ontario government says class M2 and class M motorcycle tests have also resumed. Commercial driver road tests are now available at 42 DriveTest locations in Ontario.
In a statement to CTV News Ottawa, the Ministry of Transportation urged patience as DriveTest centres expand their services.
"The extended closure has resulted in a significant backlog of road tests for all licence classes. Road test appointments will be offered on a first come, first serve basis. As driver testing services are gradually reintroduced through our phased plan, DriveTest will offer additional road test appointments to help address the current backlog," the statement said. "We ask the public to be patient when visiting a DriveTest centre and encourage people who can wait to get a driver’s licence to delay visiting DriveTest to help maintain physical distancing and reducing crowding as the centres reopen."