The previous “Free Muni for Youth” program transported low- and moderate-income youth around the Bay.
San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) is a staple for countless San Franciscans who rely on public transportation infrastructure to get around the city. The Free Muni For Youth program expansion, which was originally proposed back in 2020 but postponed due to budget issues, has been given another chance at life and will now be available for all youth under 18, starting August 15 and lasting for 1 year.
According to SFMTA’s website, “Muni Transit Fare Inspectors will not request proof of payment from youth who appear to be under the age of 19,” but those above 16 years old are “encouraged to carry a student ID or other form of ID for age verification.” In other words, no Clipper cards or applications are necessary.
We’re expanding the Free Muni for Youth program so everyone 18 and under can ride Muni for free, no application required.
For some people the financial burden of a Muni ride is small, but for youth and families with kids, these costs add up. https://t.co/bO6Fl8Aaib
— London Breed (@LondonBreed) June 10, 2021
Free Muni For Youth was originally a 2013 pilot program providing free transportation for low- to moderate-income youth between 5 and 18 who filled out an application. It’s now been granted an extra $2 million, which will allow for all youth to get free transportation across the city, no application required, during the fiscal year 2021-2022. For the city’s approximately 100,000 kids between 5-18 years old, this could be a game changer. It also simplifies the process for families who may have limited English and find the application process to be a barrier.
Free Muni For Youth has its origins in several areas, including the work of District Supervisors Matt Haney and Dean Preston. But it’s essential to give enormous credit to the hardworking members of the SF Youth Commission, who represented the youth of San Francisco with grace and professionalism to make this proposal a reality. In particular, Calvin Quick (SF Youth Commission) and Alexander Hirji (previously SF Youth Commission, now a Youth Transportation Advisory Board member), deserve some serious accolades.
I doubt many realize this, but current movement to eliminate the Muni youth fare started just over a year ago, at an SFMTA budget presentation to @SFYouthCom.
When the MTA’s budget (that had included FMFAY) got held up, @sashazandr and I wrote a resolution calling for action… https://t.co/ZNEQis6ye3 pic.twitter.com/Es239AABHi
— Calvin Quick (he/him) (@CalvinQuick01) June 10, 2021
well, i guess the cat is out of the bag, but yes it is true, melgar and breed are working to introduce what is going to be a one-year free muni for youth program. very, very, very happy right now after fighting for that last year and seeing it die.
— Alexander (@sashazandr) June 10, 2021
As the Free Muni For Youth expansion becomes a reality for all youth, conversations are still in progress about Free Muni For All, which several supervisors are still pushing. Supervisor Dean Preston detailed this initiative in another press release from June 8, when the Board of Supervisors voted on a universal free public transit program for all, which would provide $12.5M to launch a fare-free Muni pilot from July 1 – September 30. The Board voted 7-4 to approve this program, but Mayor Breed has vowed to veto it. The Board can only override this veto if they gain an 8th vote in favor of the program.
As for the new Free Muni For Youth program, which will be active during 2021-2022 with possibility of extension, Mayor Breed said the following:
“For some people in our city the financial burden of riding Muni is small, but so many young people and families with children rely on public transportation and these fares have a significant impact on their budgets. After more than a year of social distancing and virtual learning, I want to see students taking the bus to get to school and to hang out with their friends. This will not only save them money, but also hopefully foster a new generation of Muni riders. I want to thank Supervisor Melgar for bringing this idea forward and pushing to make it a reality.”
The pandemic has been somewhat of a blessing for certain SFMTA entities, who took the opportunity to add WiFi to the subway tunnels, make the Clipper Card available for iPhone, grind tracks, and make other small improvements that would have otherwise been put on a back burner.
Mayor kudos to the youth leaders and local government officials who pushed for this exciting expansion in transportation accessibility!
Featured image: @talesoftherails via Instagram