SAC Looks at Possibilities for Muni "Class Pass"
April 20, 2005 8:46 AM
SF State’s Student Affairs Committee continued talks on the possibility of discounted Muni “class passes” for students on Tuesday afternoon.
SF State’s transportation coordinator Patricia Tolar and parking coordinator Lily Gee met with the SAC on April 19 to discuss the feasibility of a class pass system at SF State.
A “class pass” program would give students unlimited semester-long access to Muni light rails and buses without paying a fare each time, and without purchasing $45 monthly passes from Muni. The university would purchase bulk transit directly from Muni at a fixed rate and give passes to students and perhaps staff and faculty.
Many other Bay Area universities such as the University of San Francisco, San Jose State University and UC Berkeley already enjoy fare-free transit pass programs for students and faculty.
“We’ve got the possibility of Muni rates going up, we’re looking at 5,000 new students coming to the university, and we have congestion, pollution and parking problems,” said SAC member Larry
The SAC agreed that the first step is to conduct a survey of the transportation habits of SF State students. This information will then be used to negotiate class pass prices with Muni.
In 1997, shortly after UC Berkeley’s class pass system was initiated, SF State and Muni agreed on a $60 class pass system, and the proposal was handed over to Associated Students Inc. The fee was never presented for a student vote, however, and the matter was dropped. Muni offered the service to SF State again in 2002 for $54, but ASI decided against it again.
Horace Montgomery, leadership development coordinator for ASI, said an “agreement was never reached.”
“ASI decided that what (Muni) was offering was absurd,” said Montgomery. “Muni completely refused to budge.”
Muni’s current system costs $72 per student and requires every student to pay, whether they use Muni or not. Muni refuses to allow a system in which only students who want the pass have to pay.
This presents a problem for SF State’s student body among which, according to Tolar, only about 20 percent of students live within the city limits and would make use of the pass.
“It’s a hard sell,” said Tolar. “You’re looking at about 15-20 percent of students who are actually using it, and 80 percent of students who are only paying for it.”
Universities vary in the methods they choose to pay for the bulk transit passes; most Bay Area schools opt for the mandatory student fees paid at the beginning of each semester.
UC Berkeley and San Jose State students pay $37.20 and $21.50, respectively, as part of registration costs, but these fees are complimented by other revenue sources. USF students pay the full $60-75, depending on the semester. Other funding options include using parking revenues and fines, general funds or even grant money.
Gee said that all of SF State’s parking revenue is being used for existing shuttle services, so the entire bill would probably have to be footed by students.
SF State sociology major Michael Valenti, 22, said an additional $72 a semester is unreasonable, even
“It is a discount, but I would expect it to be much less, since we’re students,” said Valenti. “I ride Muni fairly often, and I still don’t think it would be worth it.”
Another class pass obstacle is the amount of Muni service to and from SF State’s campus. A class pass system would increase peak-hour Muni ridership on buses that are already overcrowded, said Tolar. In addition to providing the class pass, Tolar said Muni would have to improve service to and from SF State to make the program work.
“It wouldn’t be useful to have a cheaper pass if you couldn’t get on the busses,” said Tolar. “If (Muni) can’t guarantee more service, we would just be paying to wait in long lines.”
Tolar and Gee said they fully support the idea of a class pass program, and will work with the SAC to develop a viable program.
“It’s a definite start,” said Tolar. “But resources are the big issue; we need to find out where the money is going to come from.”
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