Funding for Muni plan hits a snag 

The Muni proposal to provide free transit rides for low-income youths faces serious questions after regional officials on Wednesday declined to recommend funding for the project.

In April, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, which operates Muni, approved a 22-month pilot study to provide free transit rides for 40,000 low-income youth city residents. However, the plan was contingent on receiving $5 million in available regional funding from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, the Bay Area’s lead transportation agency.

MTC staff recommended that the agency release $4 million — not the full $5 million — for the program. However, on Wednesday, six members of an MTC committee failed to agree on that recommendation, deadlocking 3-3.

Without the funding recommendation moving forward to the full MTC commission for a vote later this month, the committee did agree to continue the matter for further discussion at a July committee meeting.

Several MTC commissioners expressed concerns about the sustainability and equity of the program, and requested that the agency’s staff address those issues before the next meeting. A new recommendation on the funding proposal will follow.

San Francisco Supervisor David Campos, who represents The City on the MTC, has been the chief advocate for the free Muni youth program. Even though the funding recommendation was not approved, Campos said he felt optimistic that the program’s chances.

“I remain confident that we’ll get the funding and support from the region,” said Campos. “This is not something that’s going to go away. We’re going to come back in July and try to figure this thing out.”

Even if the regional funds are approved, Campos conceded that he was not sure if the money would arrive in time for the upcoming school year. He also acknowledged that San Francisco still has to secure the remaining $1 millionto fund the program.

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Will Reisman

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