“The pioneering new service, DASH (Driving All Students Home) is supported by An Garda Síochána through their Campus Watch Program, and will be launched nationwide in January”
It happens all the time – you’re in a nightclub and can’t find any of your friends. You spent all your cash buying horribly grim shots of Sambuca for some new pals who forgot to pay you back, and because of a sober decision to purposely leave your debit card at home (you knew you’d spend all your money on those aforementioned shots if you brought it with you), you have no way of accessing any money.
Hailo was supposed to get you home, but now your phone is dead. You’ve no idea what to do, and you find your mind wandering to the story your friend told you about the time she shifted a rickshaw driver in exchange for a lift home.
Richie Commins, a final year Business Information Systems student from NUIG, wants to make sure you never find yourself in that situation ever again. He has launched a new service in Galway, which allows students to get a taxi home if they find themselves in a situation with no money, phone or wallet, while ensuring that taxi drivers still get paid.
The idea was developed from a project that Commins was assigned to last year, wherein he had to develop a solution that would resolve a prominent student issue. He came up with the idea after being left in situations many times without the means to get a taxi, and realizing the dangerous position that was created as a result. Research carried out by the project group showed that students often do not have the money they would need to get a taxi at the end of the night, leading to them deciding to walk home, putting their safety in jeopardy.
The pioneering new service, DASH (Driving All Students Home) is supported by An Garda Síochána through their Campus Watch Program, and will be launched nationwide in January.
To sign up, students simply go online to projectdash.ie, add their college ID photo, a method of payment and a 4-digit pin. Then, if a student ever finds themselves in a situation where they have absolutely no means of getting home, they can get into a taxi, tell the driver their name and 4 digit-pin, and the driver can view the student and verify their identity on the app before taking them safely home.
In conversation with Richie, it is clear that he has put a lot of work into the project, and his enthusiasm shines through his emails. His swift responses, even at 11 o’clock at night, are a clear indicator of his dedication to the initiative. This passion is even more palpable when I asked him about his hopes for the service:
“I wanted to make sure we created a system that could sustain itself without students paying anything extra than a normal fare.”
“We are extremely optimistic about the success of Dash – a lot of thought went into the whole process. I wanted to make sure we created a system that could sustain itself without students paying anything extra than a normal fare. A lot of research went into it and we tried a few different methods to get it to the simple one it is today. We tested the basic concept in Galway during the summer. The current service is undergoing further testing and is successfully taking people home. Now that everyone is happy with what we’ve created it’s very exciting and we’re hoping it’s a nationwide success to a problem that’s been around for students for a very long time.”
While the success of the initiative in Galway has been extremely promising, I asked Richie if he had any worries about getting taxi drivers to sign up for the service, considering many taxi drivers are still reluctant to use apps such as Hailo:
“I wanted to make sure that taxi companies around the entire country were happy with how the service worked so I spent most my time travelling meeting companies in Galway, Dublin, Limerick, Cork, Sligo, Letterkenny, Dundalk, Maynooth, Carlow and Athlone. A lot of drivers around the country are still very reluctant to use apps, which is why we work with companies, rather than individual drivers, and made the sign-up process very simple for the drivers. We are allowing them to take students home in a safe environment and really enhance their corporate social responsibility so every company and their drivers have been more than happy to come on board.”
DASH is coming to Dublin in January, which is when it’s being officially launched with “The Project DASH Campaign”. Their plan for January is to “create a movement of safety that swarms every campus across the country”, and they plan on running a number of events in order to ensure enough students sign up for the service.
According to Richie, the service has the support of “pretty much every Students’ Union in the country, as well as taxi companies surrounding each university, An Garda Síochána, nightclubs and other organizations”.
TCDSU President, Kieran McNulty, says that Trinity is completely on board with the project and that they are looking forward to its launch in Dublin.
In the meantime, as we wait for this life-saving service to be brought to Dublin, be careful on nights out, especially over the Christmas break. Remember to drink responsibly and tell someone of your plans for the night. Never ever walk home alone, and have important phone numbers written down in case something does happen to your phone. Enjoy Christmas, and sesh safely!