Support Bus Riders and Drivers in Lebanon

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.”

TRU is partnering with Riders’ Rights Lebanon to raise funds to support bus riders and drivers and strengthen Lebanon’s mass transportation sector. 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. Thanks for making a donation!

The Transit Riders Union is collecting donations on behalf of Riders Rights Lebanon, and will send the funds via Western Union. The Transit Riders Union is a registered 501(c)(4) non-profit, and as such donations made directly to TRU are not tax-deductible. If you would like to make a tax-deductible donation, you can do that here through our fiscal sponsor Urban Sparks, and then email to let us know that your donation is meant for Riders Rights Lebanon. Thank you!

More 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.

Thank you for your support and solidarity!