Supe to argue for Muni youth pass discount 

A discount for 18- to 21-year-olds to ride Muni that would cost about $3.1 million a year could get the brakes put on it Tuesday when the proposal comes before the board that oversees the transit agency.

Supervisor Jake McGoldrick is expected to make his case Tuesday for a $15 Fast Pass discount for those between the ages of 18 and 21 before the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency board of directors, which oversees Muni. McGoldrick will attempt to convince MTA board members to support implementing the discount on Jan. 1, 2008.

Under the proposal, the Fast Pass cost of $45 per month would decrease to $30 per month for those between the ages of 18 and 21, which is expected to cost Muni about $3.1 million a year.

A resolution drafted by McGoldrick urging the MTA to implement discount was narrowly approved by the Board of Supervisors only after learning that Mayor Gavin Newsom announced plans to consider a fare-free Muni. Because Muni spends a lot of money trying to collect and enforce fares, a fare-free system could speed up a transit service criticized for being slow and unreliable, and also increase ridership, Newsom suggested.

On Friday, McGoldrick called Newsom’s idea of a fare-free Muni "outrageous," saying his own proposal showed "some real leadership."

"There is no better way to get service improvements than to get more ridership," McGoldrick said. "If you get more young adults on board, they will continue to ride it all their lives."

Citywide, the MTA is collecting only 22.3 percent, or $29.6 million, of the revenue it could potentially collect, according to a January report by the Office of the Budget Analyst.

Newsom spokesman Nathan Ballard said a report on a fare-free Muni is "forthcoming by the end of April." "It may be bad policy or it may pencil out. This report will settle that question," Ballard said.

The proposed discount comes as the transit agency is expected to face a deficit of $50 million to $70 million by 2008-09, and when MTA officials have advocated that any additional revenue should go toward improving service.

McGoldrick said that for the Fast Pass discount to become a reality next year the MTA board would have to adopt the Fast Pass discount as part of its budget proposal for the upcoming fiscal year, which begins July 1.

Riders 18 years old and up pay $1.50 to ride Muni and $45 for a monthly Fast Pass. Those under age 18 can pay the so-called Youth Reduced fare, which is 50 cents and $10 for a monthly Fast Pass. Muni sells about 120,000 Fast Passes per month, according to a report from the Office of the Legislative Analyst.

jsabatini@examiner.com

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