Motor service useful but unused

Jennie Kushner

Six percent of the student population has taken advantage of the University’s free Motor Assistant Program, said Chris D’Esposito, assistant director of transportation services.

D’Esposito said annually about 1,800 out of 30,000 students use MAP, a program that was initiated about 13 years ago.

“MAP is a service that helps out faculty, staff and visitors on campus who need minor automotive assistance,” D’Esposito said. “We service seven days a week from 7 a.m. until midnight.”

One to two drivers are available assist those who run out of gas, need a battery jump, or need air in a tire, D’Esposito said.

“We are primarily on campus; if we go to far off campus, we are not able to service those on campus,” he said.

D’Esposito said MAP costs the University thousands of dollars a year.

“I don’t know the exact number; we dedicate two vehicles, we have two employee salaries and all the equipment like battery jump boxes,” he said. “It costs in the thousands.”

D’Esposito said any person on campus is allowed to use the service; it is not strictly for students.

Taylor Hess, a sophomore majoring in mechanical engineering, has used the MAP program several times this year.

“They helped me save money on a tow truck and they were very friendly,” Hess said. “They helped in any way they could.”

Hess said he discovered the MAP program through a booklet he received at orientation in 2009.

Until about a year ago, MAP could assist drivers who locked their keys in the car. That service is no longer offered, D’Esposito said.

“That is because of two reasons,” he said. “First, it was a liability issue. As vehicles become more technically advanced, you can’t unlock the door without having the alarm go off. The systems are too advanced. We would also have to break windows sometimes to get the keys.”

D’Esposito said MAP does not offer towing.

“We can put you in contact with a tow company and locksmith that we have a special rate with here in Tuscaloosa,” he said.

Calls to the MAP program remain constant despite the heavy flow of visitors during football season.

“It is pretty consistent,” he said. “We get as many calls during a football week as we do during the summer time.”

D’Esposito said those who call in need to be patient.

“Sometimes the calls will get backed up so there may be a delay,” he said. “If people can remain patient, we are trying to get to them as fast as possible.”

Sarah Smith, a sophomore majoring in telecommunication and film, said she thinks the idea of the MAP program is positive, but due to little advertisement, is a waste of money.

“I have never even heard of the MAP program before,” she said. “Now that I know about it, I will use it if the time comes.”

Smith said it is somewhat pointless for the University to spend thousands on the program without alerting students that it is available.

“Since the University has not taken the time to alert students of the program, I think it is pointless to spend so much money on it,” Smith said. “I think it’s great we have that, but nobody knows about it to use it.”

Those looking to use the MAP program can call 348-0121. After 4:30 p.m. or on weekends call 348-9494.