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Support Bus Riders and Drivers in Lebanon

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Yasmine (pictured above right) tells her story:

“I leave home in Barbir at 6:30 in the morning and I take the bus to Hamra, where I do my first shift in cleaning. Then at 1 pm, I leave and take the bus to Achrafieh, where I do my second shift until 6 pm. I then take the bus back home, where I do my housework and I take care of my two daughters.

Until the collapse [in 2019], one shift used to be enough for me to sustain my household, but with the devaluation of the [Lebanese] Lira, two shifts are barely enough for us to stay afloat. With the rise in commute prices, I pay 60,000 Liras ($1.5) everyday, so 1,200,000 ($30) Liras a month on transport alone. From my two jobs, I make 2,150,000 Liras ($53.8) a month.

The bus, it’s not a walk in the park. It’s hot during summer, and cold during winter. Most importantly, it’s slow and windy – my commute back home is half an hour when it would be five minutes if I had my own car, but I don’t have much of a say, since the van and the cab are even more expensive.

My name is Yasmine, and I don’t want to complain, but I have plenty on my plate, and a bit of support would be quite nice.”

About Riders' Rights Lebanon:
Riders' Rights is a grassroots Lebanese NGO founded in 2019 that works on improving the mass transportation sector in Lebanon for both bus operators and users. Notice how we said “mass transportation” and not “public transportation”? That's because the Lebanese state is a weak one, which means that the entire public sector – including infrastructure, institutions, and services – is minimal if not dysfunctional. As a result, most buses and minibuses operating on Lebanese streets are privately owned.

Since 2019, Lebanon has been enduring an economic crisis (commonly known amongst us Lebanese as “The Collapse”) that has been described by the World Bank as one of the worst three economic crises in the last 150 years. The local currency (the Lebanese Lira) has lost 96% of its value, resulting in a rise in poverty rates. Today, about 80% of the Lebanese people are living below the poverty line. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, many Lebanese, including bus operators, lost their jobs. And bus users like Yasmine, who told her story above, have been left paying over half their income on transportation.

So far, crowdfunding has enabled Riders' Rights Lebanon to help 32 bus drivers to relaunch their work and persist through the pandemic and beyond. We have also partnered with local cafés and shops to provide bus users with discounts when users would show them their bus tickets. This was a win-win situation for both bus users and shop owners, and was part of our efforts to advocate for Lebanon to move away from a car-oriented culture and towards public transportation.

About TRU:
TRU (Transit Riders Union) is an independent, democratic, member-run union of transit riders organizing for better public transit in Seattle, King County and beyond. Since 2020, TRU has been partnering with Riders' Rights Lebanon as part of its mission to support pro-transit movements and organizations around the world, with a special emphasis on rider-led associations in the Global South. TRU believes solidarity doesn't end at our city limits and shouldn't be confined by borders, either! Partnering with Riders' Rights Lebanon is one way we are working to raise awareness of transit and mobility rights issues, campaigns and struggles through an intersectional, justice-oriented and multi-disciplinary perspective. Climate change, gentrification and car-centric urbanism are global problems that require us to learn from and stand with transit users everywhere.

Because GoFundMe does not operate in Lebanon, an authorized representative of the Transit Riders Union in Seattle will withdraw the funds raised from GoFundMe and send them via Western Union to an authorized representative of Riders’ Rights in Lebanon. Riders’ Rights will disperse the funds to the out-of-work and struggling bus and van drivers in their networks through in-kind donations.

Campaign Funds Will Be Used For:
1) Maintenance support for bus operators: This means that rather than providing bus operators with direct monetary support, we will agree with selected vehicle garages such that they don’t charge bus operators for maintenance works. This would relieve bus operators from an important financial burden, streamline this work axis, and improve the bus conditions for bus users.

2) Coupon support for daily bus drivers: Not all operators are drivers. Some bus drivers rent their buses from operators on a daily basis, and thus are part of the transport scene without benefitting from the maintenance support envisaged above. As such, we will be agreeing with selected supermarkets and supply shops such that they would receive coupons from those daily bus drivers, to relieve them from some grocery and household expenses.

3) Discounted periodic tickets for bus users: Weekly and monthly bus tickets do not exist in Lebanon. What we intend to do is precisely to create such tickets for regular bus users, relieving them from 20-50% of the standard fare.

4) Discounted periodic tickets for students: Similar to Point 3 above, periodic tickets would be issued for students (school and university students) by way of encouraging them to use mass transport.

5) Paperless ticketing: Axis 4 (discounted periodic tickets) would be easier to monitor and implement with paperless ticketing. To do so, we will mobilize a web developer to expand our pre-existing app – currently limited to providing a map of the various bus lines – towards paperless ticketing.

By way of ensuring transparency in our donation processing, we will be tracking all incoming donations, their sources, their dates, and how they were put to use on our website. Your donation will make a big difference to someone thousands of miles away. Please take action today, and spread the word!
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Donations 

  • Karen Taylor
    • $10 
    • 26 d
  • Tabea Schünemann
    • $20 
    • 4 mos
  • Roland Vossebrecker
    • $50 
    • 4 mos
  • Katherine Wilson
    • $50 
    • 4 mos
  • Aaron Shay
    • $20 
    • 1 yr
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Organizer and beneficiary

Meera Lee Sethi
Organizer
Seattle, WA
Transit Riders Union
Beneficiary

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