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Each year, Jacky Poulson raises funds to help those in need secure Tri-Valley Wheels bus tickets during the holidays. (Photo - Doug Jorgensen)

For the fifth consecutive holiday season, Jacky Poulson is asking the community to help provide a gift of mobility for some of the Tri-Valley’s most financially struggling residents.

Those who most depend most on public transportation are often the least able to afford fares. The annual bus ticket drive provides thousands of free Tri-Valley Wheels bus tickets every year and helps defray transportation costs, a significant burden for many households, particularly during the current economic crisis.

“It’s my mission this year that everyone in our community who needs public transportation to obtain services such as meals, groceries and health care, can receive bus tickets to transport them there,” Poulson said. “No one should have to forgo these services just because they cannot afford the cost of transportation.”

For low-income households in the state’s metropolitan areas, transportation is the third‐largest budget item behind food and housing. Even when financially struggling people who depend on public transit find ways to cover transportation costs, the trade-offs including added stress, anxiety and less money for other necessities such as food, were among the findings of a study by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission.

Following the three-year study, the regional transportation planning agency launched a pilot program this summer that offers discounted transit fares for low-income adults on transit systems that use the clipper fare payment system.

The annual fundraiser is administered by Asbury United Methodist Church in Livermore. Tickets purchased from the proceeds are given to the Livermore Homeless Refuge, Open Heart Kitchen, Asbury United Methodist Church, which provides showers and laundry service for the homeless, Interfaith Sharing Food Pantry, Axis Community Health, Tri-Valley Haven, and Partners for Change.

To donate by mail, send a check, made out to Asbury United Methodist Church, 4743 East Ave., Livermore, CA 94550. Write “BUS TICKETS” on the check memo line and on the envelope, and include your email address to limit overhead expenses for sending donation receipts. To donate online, visit https://bit.ly/2020bustickets A credit card fee charged by the vendor is added, so 100% of the donation goes to support the program.