Tiger Patrol ‑ getting you home safely

Dal's shuttle bus service is having its busiest year ever

- November 15, 2011

Jacob MacIsaac (left), Dal's community safety officer, and Reynado Dames, program coordinator for Tiger Patrol. (Danny Abriel photo)
Jacob MacIsaac (left), Dal's community safety officer, and Reynado Dames, program coordinator for Tiger Patrol. (Danny Abriel photo)

If you’re looking for a safe way home in Halifax and haven’t tried Tiger Patrol yet, now is the time to get acquainted.

Tiger Patrol is a shuttle bus service that is free to all students, faculty and staff of Dalhousie University and the University of Kings College. This service—a partnership between the DSU, Student Services and Security Services—is run by a group of dedicated students, including the program’s coordinator Reynaldo Dames.

Over the course of three years working with Tiger Patrol, Mr. Dames has noticed a steady increase in the use of this service. However, the decision to cut the walk-along service this year due to limited use had him concerned about the overall future of Tiger Patrol.

But with some extra promotion and some notable service improvements, Tiger Patrol is having a banner year: it’s hosted 3,266 passengers in the past two months, a number that far surpasses any other previous year.

“It’s a great benefit for the Dal community, especially those with safety concerns,” says Mr. Dames.

A safe option for making it home

There are two vans used each night: one from 6:00 p.m. until 1:00 a.m. and the other from 7:00 p.m. until 2:00 a.m. Each of the drivers knows beforehand which route they are on—north and south—and while they have a series of set stops, they will carry passengers where they need to go along the main routes.  

“We can often drop that person off right to their door, which beats the bus and it’s free so you don’t have to pay for a cab,” says Mr. Dames.

There are always two drivers for each van: one person drives while the other handles the phone, checks student IDs and records information to ensure that nothing gets overlooked in ensuring that students get home safely.

“If you’re scared to walk home, then it’s a great service because it’s safe and it’s through the university. We have regulars and are always getting to know new people and the people get to know the drivers. I always tell my staff it’s all about communication and [building on] the sense of community.”

The shuttles conveniently leave every fifteen and forty-five minutes past the hour starting at 6:15 p.m. each night at the Student Union Building. They then proceed to Shirreff Hall from which they depart on their separate routes. The shuttles runs throughout the school year, September through April.

Mr. Dames wants to make it clear that the Tiger Patrol is “not a service that will pick you up or bring you to a bar.” The service is geared towards those students who have late night classes or want to take advantage of extended library hours.

Expanded service

So why is Tiger Patrol having its busiest year yet? In addition to increased awareness of both the service and of personal security on campus, Mr. Dames cites several improvements recently implemented into the service. Its boundaries have been expanded, for example, such that the vans can now go as far as the Mumford bus terminal by the Halifax Shopping Center and up to Young Street in the North End. Hours have been extended as well – the last van run now ends at 2 a.m.  

Then there’s the fact that each van has its own cell phone. This helps accommodate more passengers and allows the drivers to give better estimates on when the van will be arriving.

With this year’s success, Mr. Dames hopes to continue to improve and expand the service. “We’re all happy about the results of the service and the number of drives this year, but there is always room for improvement.”

Mr. Dames hopes that with the increase in people utilizing the service they will be able to consider implementing a third van and perhaps create some green initiatives by installing scanners for the Dal Cards to save on paper; after all, they’re going through a lot of client information sheets these days!

Learn more about the Tiger Patrol service at its website. You can reach the Tiger Patrol by calling Dal security at 494-6400.


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