First, an update on the transit drive: We are 41 days into this 100-day drive, and people have donated 21 cards – 42% of the way to the goal of collecting 50 cards by the end of the year. Thanks to all those who have donated so far!
As a reminder, I’m collecting transit passes to benefit refugee families resettled by International Rescue Committee (IRC) in Seattle. You can donate by following the directions here or – if you would prefer to donate an amount other than $55 – you can send the money directly to me via PayPal (email@example.com). Regardless of which of those two methods you use, be sure and send me your name and address so I can pass that along to IRC Seattle and they can send you a tax receipt and your donation will be tax-deductible.
Speaking of refugees and public transit, is there research about the use of public transit by refugees and asylum seekers in the United States? Not that I know of, although there is a body of research on the travel behavior of immigrants more generally. This article by Evelyn Blumenberg, one of my professors at UCLA, includes a good summary. It looks like the biggest difference between travel by immigrants and travel by native-born people is the degree to which immigrants use public transit, especially for immigrants who have been in the United States for less than five years, and especially among those immigrants who arrive with limited resources (so that they can’t afford to purchase a car). The longer a person has lived in the United States, the more his or her travel habits start to resemble those of a native-born traveler (i.e. the more he or she relies on a private vehicle).
In this context, I like to think of the transit passes we’re collecting for refugee families resettled in Seattle as the beginning a process of establishing mobility within these families’ adopted hometown. Some of them my find themselves in neighborhoods that are well-served by transit, and these transit passes will mark the beginning of a long-term reliance on a convenient transit network. Many others will initially use the transit system to connect with job training, job interviews, and employment that will give them the resources to eventually transition to a more convenient and reliable mode (probably a car).