Tiger Patrol inconsistent, say students

Some students are criticizing Dal’s pick-up and drop-off service for being sporadic

Many students use the service at night to get home from campus. Photo: Ameya Charnalia.

Mugunthan Balaji Pattabi has been using Dalhousie University’s Tiger Patrol service for over two years now, but hasn’t seen all the changes he hoped for.

“After lab or after my assignments it’s difficult to catch the bus and wait for so long in this weather,” he says, explaining why the student-operated pick-up and drop-off service, Tiger Patrol, needs a more frequent service.

With the onset of cold, wintry days, Dalhousie students are increasingly turning to the service.

Tiger Patrol is run jointly run by Dalhousie Security and the Dalhousie Student Union.

A shuttle runs every evening between 6 p.m. and 1 a.m., picking students up every half an hour from the Student Union Building at 6136 University Ave.

A student drives the van while another student checks identification. Both are hired by the Dalhousie Student Union as paid positions.

Issues

Although students like Pattabi find the service indispensable, they face issues with it too.

“The Tiger Patrol is doing a good job and is convenient, but it’s not well organized and it depends on the people who are driving,” said Dalhousie graduate student Chenxin Jin.

“Sometimes they prefer to drop their friends first,” said Pattabi.

Students also complained about Tiger Patrol’s unreliability.  The service was cancelled on Halloween as a “safety precaution” for the drivers, according to a Dalhousie Security tweet.


Students unimpressed

Felicia Latour, a University of King’s College student eligible to use the service, was recently left stranded waiting for the shuttle outside Dalhousie’s Howe Hall residence.

“I stood waiting for half an hour with no updates,” she said.

She called the driver three times. “They estimated five to 10 minutes but never showed up.”

She eventually walked to her destination, frustrated, wondering why the driver even bothered asking her to wait.

Similar services

Many universities in Ontario offer similar walk-home services for students after dark.

Latour, who attended Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont., says that her old university offered students a secure walk-home service every day.

Queen’s alma-mater society offers students a free walk-home service, led by a team made up of one male and one female student staff member.

“It should be a pretty standard service at Canadian universities. If they’re going to provide Tiger Patrol, at least make it adequate,” said Latour.

A walk-home service offered by Dalhousie was cancelled due to budget cuts in 2011.

Pattabi thinks adding one or two more vans could also be effective.

Tiger Patrol coordinator Reynaldo Dames mentioned the possibility of getting an additional van three years ago, but that is yet to be implemented.

Convenience

A number of students living on residence use Tiger Patrol to pick up groceries.

For students working late, it’s a “safe and convenient” option to get home, says Jin.

Two vans operate on north and south routes. These are reflected in the map below. The northbound van’s operating zone is pink, southbound is yellow.

Faculty and students at Dalhousie University and the University of King’s College can be picked up and dropped off within city limits by calling 902-499-1831 or 902-718-9908.

Tiger Patrol’s coordinator did not respond to a request for comment.


 

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