In a move to ease consumer complaints about long waits while renewing vehicle registrations and driver's permits, the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration yesterday announced that the first branch offices will open at shopping centers in Prince George's and Montgomery counties.

The two offices, which will supplement services offered by the main MVA offices in each county, are scheduled to open by September and will operate the same hours Monday through Saturday as the shopping centers in which they are located, said Del. Timothy Maloney, the Prince George's Democrat who is chairman of the House Appropriations subcommittee on transportation. They will be closed on Sunday, he said.

In addition, said Marshall Rickert, the MVA administrator who proposed the "express branches," the main MVA offices in Largo and Gaithersburg will be open the third Saturday of every month from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. beginning July 19.

"There has been enormous pressure from people about the quality of service at MVA, complaints about long lines and lack of accessibility," Maloney said. "This is going hand in hand with staggered registration to end that pressure."

The Prince George's branch will be at Prince George's Plaza in Hyattsville, Beltway Plaza in Greenbelt or the Laurel Centre, he said. No Montgomery sites have been identified.

The branches are part of a pilot program, Maloney said, but likely will be made permanent. A third pilot branch is opening in Baltimore County, he said. The three branches will cost the state about $250,000 annually, he said.

The staggered registration program mentioned by Rickert is being phased in this year on a schedule designed to avoid the annual late March tag rush and save the state about $600,000 a year.