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MAXWELL COLLINS | STAFF REPORTER | firstname.lastname@example.org
Students can delete the TapRide app because Butler University Police Department (BUPD) has once again revamped the on-campus safety transportation service, Dawg Ride.
BUPD introduced Dawg Ride to campus in 2013 , and it has gone through many changes over the years. Before being branded as “Dawg Ride,” BUPD officers would pick up students in cruisers, or escort them on foot. In more recent years, the on-demand safety service has functioned through an app called TapRide where students can request to be picked up at any of several Dawg Ride stops across campus.
According to BUPD Sergeant Shawn Barks, Dawg Ride was the Student Government Association’s idea, and they put out some of the money to get a vehicle for the service.
This year, Dawg Ride changes again. TapRide was discontinued, and the replacement for the app was out of Butler’s budget. Students can now text the universal Dawg Ride number — (317) 940-9992. Students must send their pick-up and drop-off locations and their name. If available, a driver should respond with an estimated arrival time.
Dawg Ride operates seven days a week, from 7 p.m. to 3 a.m. and is overseen by BUPD. Outside of these hours of operation, BUPD said that if students call the non-emergency BUPD number — (317) 940-9396 — BUPD will send a police vehicle to safely transport students across campus.
BUPD Community Relation Officer Matthew Grimes has been working for BUPD for over five years.
“Don’t text BUPD; call and we will be more than happy to [transport students] after 3 a.m.,” Grimes said. “We encourage [students] to use Dawg Ride.”
Addi Bray, a fourth-year P4 professional pharmacy student, was a frequent user of Dawg Ride in 2019 when she was living on campus. Using it up to four times a week, Bray was able to pinpoint a few frustrations with Dawg Ride.
However, Bray said she preferred the app to the new system. One of Bray’s favorite features was TapRide’s vehicle tracking system. For her, this was ideal so she could know when a driver was actually coming.
“Typically when it came to the point where I knew the estimated [arrival] time was wrong, I could just kind of watch where [the vehicle] was,” Bray said.
Walking around campus, students may notice white signs that read “Dawg Ride stop.” In previous years, students had to be picked up from a designated stop to get a safety escort. Many students would need to travel to the nearest Dawg Ride stop to be picked up or dropped off. A common complaint from students emphasized that they did not feel comfortable or safe having to walk to the nearest Dawg Ride stop.
Bray explained that there was a stop close to University Terrace, where she was living when most frequently using the service, but not everyone had that luck. She enjoys the new pick-up options in the updated Dawg Ride system and the ease it will provide on-campus students.
“I do like how you can send a location instead now,” Bray said. “The whole convenience aspect of using Dawg Ride is to pick you up at your location and take you to where you need to actually go.”
In January 2022, three Butler students reported a Dawg Ride driver who repeatedly harassed them and other feminine-presenting riders. The driver in question would make comments to students during rides, and even obtained students’ personal phone numbers through TapRide and contacted them with inappropriate messages. The reported driver no longer works for Dawg Ride, but the past misconduct has left some students fearful of using the service.
The new system voids the use of a student-accessed app all together; students will simply text their location to the Dawg Ride phone number.
“My only concern is the fact that you have to directly text from your own phone number,” Bray said. “You don’t really want to have super close contact [with Dawg Ride drivers], especially with that other situation that happened.”
However, the phone number to text is a BUPD-assigned RingCentral number, a program that businesses use so multiple devices can access the same phone number — meaning, BUPD has access to the conversations students have with Dawg Ride drivers.
Grimes reassures students that Dawg Ride drivers should not reach out to students.
“If any student does have inappropriate communication with a Dawg Ride driver or something that you think is off, let [BUPD] know,” Grimes said. “There should be no use of your personal number outside of a specific ride. There should be no other communication.”
BUPD has high hopes for this generation of Dawg Ride, but some students still have concerns.
“There’s a lot of questions we don’t have answers to,” Bray said. “They won’t get answered until more people start using Dawg Ride [again.]”