Forty-five minutes after Maryland Gov. William Donald Schaefer guaranteed Jack Melnick that his driver's license would be renewed in 15 minutes, Melnick -- and a handful of other motorists who turned out for the opening of a new license renewal express office in Glenmont -- were still waiting.

But Melnick wasn't complaining. In fact, the Olney resident said he was more than satisfied with having his license renewed without waiting the "half a day" he estimated it would take at a full service Motor Vehicle Administration branch office.

Melnick was among about 150 motorists, onlookers and dignitaries who turned out for the ribbon-cutting ceremonies at the Glenmont Shopping Center in Wheaton to celebrate the state's computerized, state-of-the-art, license renewal system.

The Glenmont office, along with a similar express office at the Landover Mall that also opened yesterday, will be joined by five other express branches across the state within the next few months. The offices are part of a $35 million campaign to "expand and improve" Motor Vehicle Administration services, said agency public information officer Ed Siedel.

The express offices, motorists said, could be the answer to the nightmarish crowds and long waits that plague residents when they show up at the full service branches at Gaithersburg and Forestville.

"It's great," said Dave Hyder of Silver Spring while in line at the Landover office. "The wait {at the regular offices} is usually half a day. Today, even with the ceremony it's a lot quicker than I've had before."

Samuel Leiderman, a 76-year-old resident of Silver Spring, viewed the new offices not so much as progress but as a return to good old customer service. "I've been driving for 55 years and in the beginning it took five minutes to do," he said while waiting to renew his license in Glenmont. "There were no eye exams and no pictures. Now they're coming around again to try to get it done in the same amount of time . . . . "

Some motorists, however, remained less than pleased. "Before everyone goes around giving out accolades, remember that . . . . with the revenues the {MVA} has, they should have opened these years ago. And now there will only be a few of them," said a Kemp Mill resident who refused to give his name while waiting for service at the Gaithersburg facility. "They should put these up like grocery stores all over the state," he added.

Each express branch, which can serve a maximum of 1,000 persons daily and will be open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday, will be devoted solely to license renewals, name and address changes, and organ donor certification, Siedel said.

He added that driving tests and about 300 other driving-related transactions will continue to be handled only at local Motor Vehicle Administration full service branches.

The express offices, according to Schaefer, will be at convenient sites, such as shopping centers in Baltimore and Howard counties, "because that's where the people are. Besides, if we bring the people to the shopping centers, they're more likely to spend money and help out the businesses."