If Muni wants $5 million in regional transit funds for its free youth pass plan, it will have to fend off a host of other Bay Area agencies.
The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency has approved a plan to provide free rides for low-income youths, but only if the Metropolitan Transportation Commission pitches in $5 million.
However, several other transit agencies are competing for that cash. The Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority wants $4.6 million to give free passes to low-income adults. And AC Transit has said it would take $14 million for its own free youth proposal.
In fact, if every agency in the Bay Area pursued funding for discounted and free pass plans, it could cost the MTC $10 million to $100 million annually, said Anne Richman of the regional transit planning agency.
The MTC, a body made up of regional officials, discussed Muni’s proposal for the first time Wednesday. It will vote next month on whether to release the funds.
Some commissioners, such as Scott Haggerty and Mark Green of Alameda, said they would not
support the plan if it solely benefited San Francisco.
Commissioner Adrienne Tissier of San Mateo County said funding only Muni’s plan could be a
“If we’re going to go in this direction, we would need to know if we could fund it on a regional level,” Tissier said.
“Where would the funding come from and what would we need to take away?”
Richman said state bond money for Lifeline projects — programs intended for low-income areas — might be available for any of the plans. However, there is only $42 million available over the next three years. Any money redirected would come from potential improvement projects in disadvantaged communities.
San Francisco backers of Muni’s proposal have praised its potential benefits, such as providing economic relief and transit access for low-income families. It also could be a useful pilot study for other regional agencies.
Once Muni’s 22-month pilot program is finished, a permanent funding source would need to be located, said MTC Commissioner David Campos, a San Francisco supervisor who has been a leading advocate of the plan.
He added that he is cautiously optimistic about receiving the MTC funding.
“How we increase access to transportation for low-income youth is an issue that needs to be addressed by the region,” Campos said.
Allocating money for transportation