Reynaldo Dames the heart and soul of Tiger Patrol

Dalhousie University’s Tiger Patrol coordinator Reynaldo Dames (Photo: Alyssa Moar)

It’s unlikely Reynaldo Dames, coordinator of Dalhousie University’s Tiger Patrol, has any trouble walking home alone. He’s is a big guy, with a face that’s bright and happy and a permanent smile.

Yet he’s dedicated much of his time and energy to the free-ride service since starting as a driver in 2009.

Dames transferred to Dalhousie in 2007 from Kettering University in Flint, Michigan. He’s originally from the Bahamas, where his family still lives, and studies computer science at Dal.

His job as coordinator of Tiger Patrol, a service designed to give people a safe ride home, isn’t always easy. He fields plenty of complaints from users who seem to forget he has only two vans on the road.

“I do my best to stay happy, positive and enthusiastic so that I can be a light to everyone around me,” “he says.

He makes it his mission to ensure everyone who rides with Tiger Patrol has a positive experience, and trains his drivers to do the same.

Dames is in charge of everything from hiring and training new drivers to vehicle maintenance.  And when the vans go out for the night, he’s always on call.

His passion and dedication to Tiger Patrol is clear.

“It makes me happy, and I’ve gained a wealth of experience,” he says.

The service is geared mainly toward students who want to stay at school late to study or do homework.

Dames wants everyone to have a safe option for getting home, emphasizing that Tiger Patrol, unlike the bus, “will drop you right off at your doorstep.”

Back when Dames started in 2009, the service had some obvious flaws.

People waiting to be picked up had to call security services, which would then radio the drivers.

“Security would get fed up because all the calls had to come through them,” Dames says. “Seeing the frustration … I made a suggestion that we add cell phones to the vans.”

Dames also deals with user complaints. “You can only fit so many people into a van at one time,” he says.

Dalhousie science student Cameron Lisenchuk (Photo: Alyssa Moar)

Tiger Patrol has two vans, one that heads south and the other north from the Dal campus. Each can carry up to six passengers, plus the driver.

“There are a few people who get upset. I get emails, they’ll post stuff on Twitter,” Dames says. Most complaints are about reliability, but others are quick to point out the service is free.

Cameron Lisenchuk, a Dal science student, is a fan of the service.

“It’s free, and that’s awesome. Whether they take a bit longer than they say or not, it’s still better than Metro Transit or walking home alone,” he says.

Another improvement Dames wants to make is to add a third van with a different route, possibly toward Clayton Park, so more people can access the service.

“I think it would definitely help,” he says, “because we’re starting to reach capacity in terms of how many people we can accommodate.”

“I hope even when I’m long gone,” says Dames, who will be graduating this year, “Tiger Patrol continues to grow and improve.”