Public Transportation Workshops for Newly Arrived Refugees
Learning how to the ride the bus can be a trying experience for newly arrived refugees, especially when transfers and ORCA cards are involved. Refugees must ride the bus to get to health appointments, job interviews, ESL classes, and to markets for household goods and groceries. Many will have to ride a bus for the first time within days of arrival in the United States. To make this process a little easier, the IRC in Seattle has partnered with Metro Transit and First Transit to provide a public transportation workshop to newly arrived refugees. Each workshop is divided into 3 sessions, a classroom based portion, followed by two fieldtrips using various modes of public transportation in Seattle and the surrounding areas.
Each classroom portion spans nearly two hours and covers a wide range of topics. In the first hour, refugees will learn very basic information about riding a bus. This information includes what a bus stop looks like, where to stand when waiting for the bus, how to pay, confirming stops and destinations with the driver, and asking for transfers.
As the workshop progresses, refugees will learn about the different types of transportation available in the Puget Sound region, including Washington State Ferries, Sounder Commuter Trains, and Link Light Rail. Our Group Transit Instructor will discuss transfers from one type to transportation to another, differences in fare, how to pay for transportation using an ORCA card, where to buy an ORCA card and how to reload it. Furthermore, refugees will learn about peak times, the Ride Free Zone, how to read time tables, riding the bus during severe weather, and how to contact Metro for updated information on canceled or delayed service during emergencies.
Armed with this essential information and escorted by a Group Transit Instructor, IRC staff and volunteers, refugees will head into the community to receive hands-on experience. Metro Transit provides refugees with two free fieldtrips from Tukwila to any destination chosen by IRC staff and clients. The first fieldtrip is dedicated to a practical destination that newly arrived refugees will often visit, such as the IRC office in Seattle or downtown Public Health. During the second fieldtrip, refugees will breaking out of normal transit lines so that they can experience various modes of transportation and learn more about Seattle and the surrounding areas. In April, the Public Transportation Workshop will take a fieldtrip to the Tacoma Museum of Glass and will head to the Issaquah Fishery in August.
Metro Transit and First Transit have been very generous in their support of newly arrived refugees and will provide 4 classroom based workshops and 8 fieldtrips throughout 2011.
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