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Davis

Davis, California

Monday, October 25, 2021

Mobility Assistance Shuttle expands to serve faculty, staff

Previously available to just students, the Mobility Assistance Program is introducing a pilot shuttle to serve UC Davis faculty and staff with injuries or disabilities as well.

The Mobility Assistance Shuttle (MAS) offers service to specified stops on campus for a weekly fee to individuals with documented disabilities. There are more than 40 pick-up and drop-off locations across campus.

Although the services provided by the Student Disability Center (SDC) were once free, alternatives to the shuttle can be costly.

“If students become temporarily disabled or if their mobility becomes limited unexpectedly during the quarter, they may face withdrawal from school if they are unable to make it to classes,” said Erica Brown, Campus Recreation’s member services coordinator, in an e-mail interview.

Similarly, faculty and staff either miss work or rent a scooter or wheelchair to get around. These cost much more than the shuttle’s weekly fee, Brown said.

For the first week of service, students pay $20, Transportation and Parking Services (TAPS) customers pay $30 and non-TAPS customers pay $40. The weekly fee goes down for weeks two through six to $18, $27 and $36, respectively. It decreases once more at week seven to $15, $22.50 and $30, respectively.

Due to budget cuts, SDC’s program was in jeopardy of being eliminated. SDC collaborated with Campus Recreation, TAPS and the American Disability Act Special Access Funding Committee in order to continue as a fee-for-service program.

“I’m thrilled we are able to continue,” said SDC Director Jeanne Wilson. “We were in a difficult situation with the budget cuts.”

SDC will continue to look for future partners for further funding options, Wilson said.

MAS costs more to operate than SDC’s previous shuttle service due to extended hours and serving faculty and staff. MAS operates from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. instead of 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. These extra funds come from the user fees and campus departments involved.

MAS will use the same fleet of motorized vehicles, similar to golf carts, and operate in a similar manner to SDC’s shuttle service. It will continue to offer point-to-point service rather than a long route like a bus would, Wilson said.

Wilson also said SDC aims to make things easier for students with disabilities. SDC is working on a system with the Student Health Center, so if a student becomes mobility impaired, he or she can sign up for MAS right away.

Alex Steady, sophomore political science and communication double major, utilized the SDC shuttle for a month last year while he was on crutches. The shuttle is a service that UC Davis should supply for free, he said.

“This is a service that many students depend on,” he said in an e-mail interview. “I could not imagine deciding between choosing to pay or crutching across campus to class.”

Individuals might be able to sign up for MAS online in the future, Wilson said. But for now, those with documented disabilities can contact Campus Recreation at 752-1730 to schedule rides.

Next September, the involved campus departments will evaluate the pilot program and determine if any changes need to be made. They will examine budget, user fees, staffing structures, ride structures and other factors, Brown said.

JANELLE BITKER can be reached at campus@theaggie.org.

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