RTA Newsletter -Issue 1: BayRides Refugee Subsidized Rides
We kick off with Bayrides’ initiative to subsidize refugee families in the St. Margaret’s Bay area.
What they do
Bayrides currently provides transportation to one refugee family in their area. The number will increase to three families when the other two arrive in the coming weeks. The transportation is provided free of charge to the families and is typically utilized for:
- access to the local amenities
- grocery shopping
- English Language Classes
- Part-time work for the adults (by 8 am)
- Children activities such as soccer (evenings)
The refugees are generally very grateful as they live at a distance from core services.
How they do it
The initiative began when several board members for Bayrides who were also on the “Settlement Committee” for the St. Margaret’s Bay area brought up the need for transportation of the incoming families. Some of the funding is provided by the Settlement Committee that fundraised it prior to the families’ arrivals. Bayrides then provided 40 return-trip ride vouchers per family based on the provided funding.
Both paid Bayrides drivers and volunteer drivers that are shared from the Settlement Committee and Bayrides provide regular transportation. For the volunteer provided transportation, Bayrides is able to reimburse these generous community members upon request and includes their mileage as part of its logged kilometers.
Bayrides is in the process of creating a rider subsidy option for low-income riders which would be available to the families when their vouchers run out. Although they are in the process of obtaining a Nova Scotian Driver’s License, the process takes time. The Bayrides Treasure Chest 50-50 draw is hoped to provide some of the funding towards this subsidy. When the subsidy is in place, families will pay around $ 5.00 per ride.
Successes & Impact
Helping an entire family to enter a new community, not to mention country, is a very fulfilling venture. Without the essential services of Bayrides as well as community volunteers the families would be very isolated and unable to move forward with acquiring job skills, language, and integrating into the community as Canadians
Advice to other RTA managers
The transition to providing services to others from another country with different customs, language, etc. has posed a few minor challenges. The family is not yet able to book rides without a third party’s assistance and translator, although they are working toward this. Sometimes issues of timeliness or liability (around children being unattended in vans) have surfaced but they were quickly addressed by Bayrides and the Settlement Committee with the help of a translator. The family was very receptive to these adjustments.
- Partner with those responsible for settlement in your community
- Obtain the services of a translator -at least initially
- Be prepared to make long-range plans to help families transition through their own unique circumstances and not simply cut off service after a certain length of time
- Be aware of different cultural values around time, children, and professional roles that may impact drivers and volunteers
- Be proactive with planning and communication
- Talk to Julie at Bayrides for more information: firstname.lastname@example.org