Supervisor David Campos says Muni free for youth will happen this year 

The ever-growing movement to make Muni free for San Francisco’s youth may have finally found enough political support to make it a reality before the end of the school year.

Supervisor David Campos has enough support on the Board of Supervisors for legislation he introduced Tuesday that would urge the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency to launch a three-year pilot program where youth between the ages of 5 and 17 would receive free monthly Muni fast passes.

The program is strongly supported by the San Francisco Unified School District Superintendent Carlos Garcia, who called for the program to become a reality as soon as possible. “How about treating kids better than everybody,” Garcia said. “If we’re as advanced, as progressive as we’d like to think we are, then let’s walk the talk and make it happen.”

There are 56,000 students in the school district. There are an estimated 36,600 daily youth riders between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. and with the free program ridership would increase to 47,580. There are a total of 240,000 weekday Muni riders.

Currently youth must pay $.75 per single ride or buy a monthly youth pass at $21 a month. A fast pass for youth cost $15 in July 2009.

The drawback for the agency is a loss of revenue. The SFMTA would lose about $7 million annually in revenue, according to Budget Analyst Harvey Rose.

“This is a plan that is doable, that is feasible, that is practical,” Campos said. He said he program is also about “government making an investment in families in San Francisco.”

San Francisco would follow other major cities who allow youth to ride for free. New York City allows youth to take three free transit rides per day between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m. Portland allows high school students unlimited free transit rides during the school year.

“Why shouldn’t San Francisco make this happen?” Campos said.

Supporters of the legislation other than Campos are supervisors Malia Cohen, John Avalos, Jane Kim, Ross Mirkarimi and Eric Mar.

Advocates of the program have scheduled Oct. 4 as the day supporters should call the Mayor’s Office asking Mayor Ed Lee to support the program.

The SFMTA board of directors will discuss the program at its Oct. 18 meeting.

jsabatini@sfexaminer.com

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