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Ride to Work program aims to help people without transportation find work

Ellen Abbott
WRVO News File Photo

A new program starts in Syracuse this weekend that’s meant to help people overcome one of the biggest impediments to finding work in central New York: transportation. 

It often isn’t so easy getting a job in central New York if you don’t have a car or access to public transportation. Providence Services of Syracuse President Deborah Hundley says the problems come at workplaces that are beyond the bus line, or shifts that begin or end when buses aren’t running.

“So it leaves thousands of people within the city unemployed, who want a job, but can’t accept it because of a lack of transportation,” said Hundley.

This Sunday, the organization begins a "Ride to Work" program, offering transportation during off hours to people who need it. The first rides are being offered to four employees at Walmart in East Syracuse. Providence is collaborating with organizations to get employees and have hired individual contractors who will provide the rides.   

James Manyan, a refugee of South Sudan, lives on Syracuse’s Eastside, and knows what many job seekers without transportation are going through.

"I have to stay one year and a half, almost two years without getting job because of transportation," said Manyan. "They ask if you have a car and if you don’t have car you cannot work here.”

Manyan was lucky enough to get hired at St. Joseph’s Hospital without transportation, and now has been able to get a car. That’s something Hundley would like to see, noting the program can only be used for a year, with the hope being by then, employees could be able to save to buy a car, and then pass it on.

“So they become transportation independent, so maybe they can help other people at their workplace, get the ride to get them the job, so they too can become independent,” said Hundley.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.