Community groups, youth groups, leaders and other advocates gathered at the City Hall Steps this past Monday rallying in favor of a program for free MUNI fast passes for San Francsico youth between the ages of five and 17. The program includes a three-year pilot program, which would cost roughly seven million dollars.
This program was introduced as a response to the cost of youth MUNI fast passes soaring over 100% in the past two years. Earlier this year, the city launched a one time program where a total of 12,000 free fast passes were distributed in April, May, and June. Supporters said the program was successful and that the demand surpassed the supply.
There is an obvious need for the program since youth make up 15% of MUNI riders. Sixty percent of students in the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) take part in the free or reduced lunch program. Some are wondering where SFMTA (San Francsico Municipal Transportation Agency) will get the money to pay for this pilot program, since it is already in $23 million in debt. Campos says funds could come from private contributions, MUNI and public agencies like the San Francisco County Transportation Authority or the Metropolitan Transportation Commission. But MUNI officials estimate an additional $6 million to the tab: a possible rise of 10,980 riders in a day, meaning MUNI would have to provide more service, which could lead to more graffiti clean up.
Campos dismisses the money worries and argues that the program should be considered an investment towards a “new generation of transit riders” and for San Francisco families. This initiative is supported by Supervisors David Campos, John Avalos, Malia Cohen, Jane Kim, Eric Mar and Ross Mirkarimi.
On October 18th, The SFMTA Board will meet and discuss the program.