Refugees generally need help, either from another refugee or from a volunteer, learning to ride the public bus. It is beneficial to teach newly arrived refugees the bus system with a refugee who has been here awhile and is familiar with the bus system. The refugee who has been in Seattle for a while can relate to the newly arrived refugees and can speak their language. However, volunteers are huge assets in helping newly arrived refugees learn the public transit system as well.
Volunteers should wait for refugees to purchase a bus pass before assisting them. Within the RAP program, refugees are given one bus pass. Within the Match Grant program, refugees are given monthly bus passes until they have obtained a job.
Once refugees have bus passes, volunteers can help walk them through:
- Where to pick up the bus
- Show them the bus stops
- Are there multiple stops or just one stop near their apartment?
- How to pay for the bus (and then whether to sit or stand, etc.)
- How to get off the bus
- Requesting a stop must be done ahead of time
- How to transfer buses
- e.g., how to pick out what bus you need to get on at the High Point station
- How to read a bus map, plan their route, know when the bus will come, etc.
If you have never ridden the bus before, don’t worry, you can still be an enormous help to the refugee. Don’t be intimidated to learn the system with them. Google Maps is an accurate resource for creating a bus route. Simply click on the bus button above the destinations on the left hand panel. Select the route that is most convenient for their destination. When riding the bus, make sure you have dollar bills since change is provided in quarters (one-way fare is one dollar). Bus stops are found on both sides of the street, so make sure the traffic by your bus stop is going in the direction of your destination. To request a stop there is usually a highlighted panel, rope, or button that you push/pull to alert the driver.
It is best to teach refugees how to ride the bus by going somewhere they will need to go (e.g., to our office, to their ESL class). See below for a list of suggested places to visit. If another refugee hasn’t helped them, see if you can find one to come along with you to interpret. Try to explain as much as you can.