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Thursday, October 21, 2021

Day in the life of…

A day in the life of Benny Bray, senior mechanical engineering major and Mobility Assistance Shuttle (MAS) driver, requires a lot of problem solving and maneuvering. He is one of the employees driving temporary or permanently disabled students, faculty and staff to and from classes and work on the UC Davis campus.

I decided to follow Bray to get a sense of what it is like to drive a golf cart throughout the university.

Bray applied through Aggie Job Link earlier this quarter because his resident advisor had the same job and he thought it looked fun.

“Who doesn’t want to drive a golf cart around school? It’s a great job,” Bray said.

He works eight to 10 hours a week, although he can request more or less, for $8.75 per hour. Fleet Services supplies all the training necessary for driver training around campus.

Bray’s day began at the Activities and Recreation Center (ARC) at 7:15 a.m. to pick up his schedule for the day. He works with his partner to decide who picks up which student, in accordance to his class schedule. He checks out the keys to the “van” and the MAS cell phone every day before he leaves for his first pick-up. He handed me a beanie, saying his ears always get cold on the job.

We walked over to the golf cart known as the “van,” a large electrical cart with three benches and a platform area in the middle, ideal for wheelchairs.

“This cart is from the middle of the Stone Age,” Bray said.

Bray attempted to start the cart, but the battery wasn’t charged. He called the student at the Tercero residence halls to let her know another employee would be a little late to pick her up, but she would get to class.

Although Bray said that this problem rarely happens, he also explained how Fleet Services used to have quality carts, but they broke down and the transportation service is buying new ones.

I returned the next morning for a ride in the golf cart. We followed a similar routine, with the only difference being Bray wore an owl-themed beanie.

We left from the back of ARC and headed to the Segundo residence halls, weaving around people, bikers and sharp corners – Bray claimed he has never hit anyone. Some driving off the bike path was also necessary when dealing with traffic flow and the narrow bike roads.

“It is a golf cart, I learned that I can just go on grass, which is helpful when dealing with construction,” Bray said.

We pick up Bridget Berman, a first-year on the UC Davis women’s soccer team, from the Segundo residence halls. Berman tore her anterior cruciate ligament during the UC Riverside game when another student-athlete tackled her.

“It’s a pretty good service, but sometimes they forget to pick me up … I wouldn’t get to class on time without it,” Berman said.

On the ride to Storer Hall, Berman was unconcerned with the price of the shuttle service, saying it is relatively inexpensive.

Bray explained that the MAS was free last year, but due to budget cuts, Disability Management Services currently charges passengers for weekly services. The price paid depends on how many weeks the service is requested and if the passengers are UC Davis students, Transportation and Parking Services (TAPS) customers or non-TAPS customers.

For one week, UC Davis students using the MAS are charged $20; for two to six weeks, $18 and for seven or more weeks, they are charged $15. The expense is billed directly to the student’s account.

After dropping off Berman at Storer, we returned to the ARC parking lot to pick up Stephanie Bell, a first-year exercise biology major who tore her ACL for the second time. Bell used the service each time she has been injured.

“It’s really nice and helpful. [I go] some places cars can’t go to, which makes [using golf carts] perfect,” Bell said.

Bray ended the ride by returning to the ARC, deftly parking the cart into a tight spot in order to wait for the next pick-up.

To qualify for the MAS, students must provide medical documentation to the Student Disability Center proving their eligibility. Faculty and staff can set up an appointment with Disability Management services representative Fredna Kameges at 752-6008. UC Davis students must call Campus Recreation at 752-1730 or stop by 232 ARC. MAS service requests must be made at least 24 hours in advance.

GRACE BENEFIELD can be reached at features@theaggie.org.

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