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Free bus passes and vouchers.

There are several organizations that may provide a free bus pass or a voucher to pay for a trip. Most of the assistance is for local travel, such as for a job or transportation to an interview or for when a car is in the shop for repairs. However, in some cases there may be bus passes given to the homeless or people that need it for emergency travel, such as for the death of a loved one, escaping from a disaster, a critical doctor appointment, or other similar events.

There are a few different places to turn to for help. There may be free bus passes given from charity organizations, and these are normally focused on low income families or the homeless. Workforce centers or community action agencies may help pay for a bus pass for employment reasons, or maybe even a job interview. Another place to turn to for assistance may be a government run social service office, such as DSS.

Free bus vouchers or tokens from charities

Any number of non-profits may operate these programs. It will depend on what city as well as county the applicant lives in. However, some of the more common charity organizations that may have provide a free local bus pass, or other forms of financial help to pay for transportation, include the following.

Saint Vince de Paul is made up of volunteers, known as Venetians. Churches and parishes from across the nation join this charity and establish local conferences. They provide assistance in many ways, including passing out free bus passes, Venetians may give rides to a local store, provide financial aid for gasoline, and much more. The Society assists the most vulnerable in each conference, ranging from the homeless to seniors and single moms. The bus tokens are generally for local travel, but they may be issued as part of Society of Saint Vincent social services.

The homeless, poor, or transient, can turn to Traveler’s Aid International. This charity partners with Greyhound and other regional transportation companies to help the poor, homeless, and indigent get back home. Everything from a free bus token to money to pay for a taxi is offered. Other clients may be seniors or people seeking transportation for medical reasons. Or the bus voucher may allow them to get to an emergency overnight shelter. Call 211.




Free emergency transportation, including financial help to pay for a taxi, bus token, subway, or other form of transportation can come from many other non-profit sources too. The Salvation Army programs for the low income tends to be a major provider of this resource from their local Family Service Departments. But this will be a last resort.

They tend to focus on local rides, including given a bus pass to a single mom needing it for child care or work, a woman fleeing domestic violence, or a veteran too. The Salvation Army, which is made up of local churches, offers other help too. Everything from emergency shelter to money to pay for bus tokens, housing, food, and more may be available.

Another option may be one of the many national charity organizations. Some focus on paying for a bus ride for a medical emergency while others care for seniors, offer support to children with health care issues, or focus on other scenarios. But there are dozens of charities to contact that can walk people though the process of applying for a free bus pass program, or they may offer referrals. Find additional charity programs.

Government run bus pass programs

Bus passes for low income senior citizens as well as the disabled may be provided by Agency on Aging centers. These are non-profits, but they do partially rely on government grants for their funding. One item to note is that the organization only helps the elderly and/or people with a mental or physical disability. Older clients that need help for a medical appointment, or to get the doctor, are also clients. Some of these locations may also offer a program called paratransit, which also includes a bus ride. Find Agency on Aging senior assistance programs.





State and federal grants also fund Department of Human or Social Service offices, or DSS. They also may provide transportation assistance, including free bus tokens. One item to note is that this is a public benefit, and it will only be focused on a few needs. A social service office will assist job seekers, people that need a free bus trip for a job interview or training program, or maybe if a car broke down and is in the shop for repairs.  There are also many other public assistance programs to try from the government.

Community action agencies may help with any needed transportation for (1) a job (2) school or workforce training of (3) and interview. When it comes to bus passes, they may be paid for using CSBG grants from the federal government. Or in some cases other loan programs may be available, but only if the applicant has a source of income (or will have one in the near future).

Each applicant is assessed on a one-off basis, but the goal is to always offer some form of gasoline voucher, taxi, or bus pass to the client. Find what other assistance programs from community action agencies exist. Learn about the services they may offer, but in general the bus tokens as well as other aid (self-sufficiency, government grants, housing, etc.) have one goal in mind, and that is to help the client gain financial stability.

By Jon McNamara

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