Plans to roll out the driver theory test online could reduce the backlog effectively, according to a Cork TD.
Fianna Fáil Transport Spokesperson James O’Connor has welcomed plans by the Department of Transport and the Road Safety Authority to move the test online.
When the service closed in late 2020 due to the latest restrictions, the backlog arising from the first suspension last year had not yet been cleared.
It was not deemed to be an essential service under Level 5 restrictions and has been closed since late December 2020.
Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan, in a parliamentary response to Mr O’Connor, said: “The RSA, together with its service provider, have put plans in place to significantly increase capacity within the service when it is allowed to re-open. To cope with the initial four-month suspension, the service increased capacity from an average pre Covid-19 capacity of 15,000 to over 25,000 monthly.
A plan is being progressed to increase this capacity up to 50,000 per month when service resumes, to manage the backlog of customers and shorten waiting times."
He continued: "The RSA is also working on a plan to rollout an online driver theory test service, Pro Proctor. Pro Proctor has been trialled on a pilot basis for those taking a theory test for trucks and buses during the months of December and January. The pilot is now being evaluated and the RSA is committed to extending the service for all theory test customers during 2021.
"There will be a limit on the number of customers that can avail of the service during the initial rollout phase but the objective is that it should be an option for all theory test customers during later phases of the rollout, in line with enhancing access to public services."
Mr O'Connor welcomed the scheme: "With many people learning to work from home in the last year and getting more familiar with the use of technology, I hope such a system will allow those that can to sit their theory test online."
He added: “Coming from a rural constituency I know the importance of the ability to drive. While it is important that people continue to reduce their movements and limit their contacts now, the pandemic will thankfully will not last forever. We must ensure that people can return to normal life as quickly as possible."