The City of Edmonton has many programs in place to make Edmonton the best place to be. One of the programs that I am passionate about, and I am privileged to be the Chair of, is the DONATE A RIDE program.
The DONATE A RIDE program works with Edmonton Transit (ETS) to provide transit tickets to charitable organizations in the city. Thanks to the generosity of our amazing sponsors, DONATE A RIDE was able to provide thousands of transit tickets to be distributed to organizations around the city to help Edmontonians in need.
A recent Edmonton Journal article highlighted a University of Alberta study on the impact of transit passes to homeless and vulnerable youth (you can find the article here). The results are astounding. Just by simply having access to public transit, teens were able to find jobs, have better school attendance, and have a safe way to leave risky situations. Overall, these teens had fewer encounters with police and improved personal safety.
Not having access to public transit has led some teens to acquire criminal records because they do not pay the transit fee and then get a $250 ticket they cannot afford to pay, and as such end up in court. Having a criminal record, especially at a young age, can make it difficult to find employment, as well as contribute to other difficulties. This can be devastating to those vulnerable people, as it is another obstacle stacked against them as they try to make a better life for themselves.
DONATE A RIDE vigorously campaigns each year to collect donations so transit can be a reality for all struggling persons. Just being able to get to a job interview, to the doctor, or to school, is a huge weight lifted for many people in our city. This program has been around since 1996, and it has been incredibly successful in helping so many Edmontonians. It is important to remember those individuals in our city who do struggle with aspects of life, such as transportation, that are so often taken for granted. Edmonton has always had a generous and caring population, and I am proud of that. I hope this continues. In light of this study, and in reflecting on my time working for the DONATE A RIDE campaign, I realize how important it is to recognize the burdens that those around us are struggling with.
If you do are in need of assistance to be able to afford transportation, please talk to one of the many agencies that have received tickets. The resources are limited, but these agencies will do their best to help in any way they can.
For more information on DONATE A RIDE, recipient agencies, or our sponsors, visit www.donatearide.ab.ca