Pitfalls of Public Transportation

Posted On November 11, 2014 By | No Comments on Pitfalls of Public Transportation

My name is Shelby, and I am a student at Big Picture South Burlington, an alternative high school. My  program gives me the opportunity to learn through real world experiences and my passions. After briefly learning about homelessness in the Boston and Burlington communities, I decided to take action, and gain as much knowledge I could about the subject in an effort to destroy apathy.

I am now an intern at COTS, which has been an absolutely incredible learning experience so far. However, my internship comes with its own  complications: I don’t have a car, so I rely on the bus to get me from school in South Burlington to COTS in Burlington. Taking the bus has been educational- and introduced me to the challenges many low-income families in our community face.

I have endured the frustration of timing, delayed arrival and departure, conflict between passenger and driver, street construction, and weather-related roadblocks through my journeys on the city bus. Although public transportation can pose minor challenges for me, I have the reassurance that the next bus will most often come within the next half hour, and from there I will have a more positive and smooth ride to my internship.

This is not the case for many of our community members facing the harsh realities of homelessness. For instance, imagine a homeless woman named Laura. She has children in the public school systems. The children attend after-school programs weekdays. Laura has to drop her children off at school at 8 AM and pick them up by 6 PM. Laura’s few job opportunities were in Burlington. Instead of waiting to find work closer to her children’s school in St. Albans; she decided to take the minimum wage, 9 to 5, full-time job in Burlington to have more immediate income for her family.

With the children’s school schedule, Laura has limited public transportation options, many of which will leave her hardly any time for error. The bus from St. Albans to Burlington does not run on the weekends, so her hours are even more restricted due to the lack of resources she can access.

Laura’s weekly pay before taxes comes to $349.20. The cost to ride the St. Albans LINK express unlimited for a month is $150. Keep in mind, Laura wants to feed her children and herself healthily (which costs her about $100 a week) She also is trying to save for a car and an apartment (about $100 per week), needs to buy warm clothes for her growing children (costing around $100 per season), and wants to save money in case of an emergency such as an injury, loss of job, etc.

When put in these terms, it seems next to impossible to have a steady job with no means of private transportation. The challenges of homelessness extend beyond not having a roof consistently over your head. As demonstrated above, there are many concerns that those without a home face – concerns that can make it feel like the deck is stacked against their success.

My struggles around reliable transportation were put into perspective after researching the timing of bus schedules and the expense of utilizing public transportation. I think it is important for everyone to remember the difficulties of finding affordable and reliable transportation in our community, especially when we factor in the additional inconveniences people face when they don’t even have a stable home base to travel to and from.

Categories: Homeless Prevention, Homelessness, Housing, Volunteers
Tags:, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Comments are closed.