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A U student in a red car gets help from Motorist Assistance Program technician Brett Dunlap, who stands next to a white pickup truck.

MAP truck technician Brett Dunlap helping u student Amanuel Medhanie with his car.

Lucky 13th anniversary for the Motorist Assistance Program

Superheroes are on campus every day

By Jacqueline Brudlos

From Brief, Nov. 8, 2006

It was Friday the 13th on the Twin Cities campus, and 10 unlucky motorists met superheroes that set things right. Staff from the U's Motorist Assistance Program (MAP) unlocked five car doors and jumped five engines.

MAP has been helping U motorists get unlocked, jump-started, and rolling on all four tires since 1993. In the scary month of October--this year with a Friday the 13th as well as Halloween--MAP celebrated 13 years of helping those unlucky campus motorists. MAP, a program of Parking and Transportation Services (PTS), has served more than 35,000 individuals in their time of need.

A free service for unsuspecting victims of flat tires, locked cars and dead batteries, MAP is staffed by heroes disguised as PTS personnel. They are specially trained in-house to assist those on the Twin Cities campus who are legally parked in any university parking facility. More than one student employee has been able to take the skills they learned and find purpose (as well as employment) after leaving the university.

"I'm proud to say that we have a consistent success ratio of 96 percent. As of the end of September, we're at a total of 35,024 assists," states Art Kistler, MAP's program supervisor. Throughout the lifespan of the program, PTS staff members have successfully performed more than 19,792 jump starts, 11,159 lock-outs and 2,757 tire services.

That success rate translates into many satisfied souls among the university community. "It never ceases to amaze me how happy and relieved people are when we come on the scene," remarks Tony Bittner of Fleet Services, which handles St. Paul calls.

Terry Peters, PTS staff, responds to many of the calls on the East and West Bank campuses. "Many write us cards or call to thank us. We've even had cookies sent to the office."

The calls ring into the office year-round, but the winter months naturally see a huge boost in calls. Not surprisingly, January is the busiest month for jump starts and tire services. For whatever reason, October and November are the busiest months for lock-outs. No matter the season, the average response time for MAP heroes is typically less than 20 minutes.

On the St. Paul campus, the greatest percentage of calls comes from the Small Animal Clinic lot.

With the close of another October, MAP continues its diligent service to the University community. With the right tools and a wide smile, MAP drivers await their next call--from a man or woman; young or old; student; faculty, staff, or visitor--eager to take on the role of the unassuming hero once again.

To learn more about the program, visit MAP.