MUNI Discount Proposed For Young Riders
Proposal for people aged 18 to 24 works its way through City Hall
September 28, 2006 10:24 PM
Some SF State students could soon pay less for a month’s worth of rides around San Francisco.
City officials are currently considering a proposal by San Francisco District 1 Supervisor Jake McGoldrick to offer discounted monthly MUNI passes for “transitional youth,” people aged 18 to 24. The new fares could come as early as next year.
The idea, McGoldrick said, is to encourage young people to use mass transit more often by making it affordable.
“The future is now, where we’ll see a new generation opt for public transit,” said McGoldrick.
If implemented, San Francisco would become the first city that has an offer of discounted transit fares specifically for young adults.
Details are still being worked out over what kind of discount will be offered for these riders.
The transitional youth discount could be anywhere from 20 percent to 50 percent off the regular adult fare, about $22.50 to $36, according to Iqra Anjum, a member of the San Francisco Youth Commission who first conceived the plan.
Currently, a monthly Fast Pass for adults costs $45. Discounted passes for senior citizens over 65 and youth aged 5 to 17 are available for $10. Passes are also available to qualified low-income residents for $35.
The proposed passes would be good for use on MUNI buses and trains, as the current discounted passes are. The passes would not be accepted on BART. They would be sold wherever regular MUNI passes are sold.
McGoldrick said the discounts might also be phased in for certain age groups, such as 18- to 21-year-olds first, in order to see how much of an immediate financial impact MUNI can absorb.
“We’re also looking at increased ridership,” McGoldrick said. “We do know we’ll pick up some increased capacity.”
Inspiration for the plan first came to Anjum after watching an 18-year-old student receive a citation for not paying the $1.50 fare to ride MUNI.
“People think that as you turn 18 you suddenly become an adult and have access to money,” Anjum said.
She took her proposal to McGoldrick, who also chairs the San Francisco County Transportation Authority.
McGoldrick expressed interest for the project, following several visits to London.
“I have spoken with the mayor of London about it,” McGoldrick said. “He wanted to keep the fares low for public transit. It’s now free for those age 16 and under as a way to encourage folks to use public transit.”
They started working with the Office of the Legislative Analyst on a study of the effects the discounted passes would have on MUNI’s deficit.
A second study had to be commissioned when the analyst’s office only took into account single-ride fares as opposed to monthly passes of varying discounts. Anjum said the results were just released, but she still needs to go over them with the budget analysts.
Once they look at the OLA report, McGoldrick and the Youth Commission will begin drumming up support by contacting youth and other organizations. A hearing on the matter before the City Operations and Neighborhood Services Committee is planned for sometime in November, at City Hall.
“We already have the access we need,” Anjum said. “I’m sure the other supervisors will support it. We just need student support.”
However, there is still a lot of convincing that needs to be done before these passes become available.
MUNI officials haven’t been briefed on the concept yet, but they may not be receptive to the plan because of the financial problems the agency faces, Anjum said. Recent reports show MUNI is running an $11.7 million deficit.
“Since MUNI is not making any money they are the only ones who are going to be opposed,” Anjum said. “But with more 18- to 24-year-olds buying passes, it would even out.”
MUNI spokeswoman Maggie Lynch did not respond to a request for comment.
Many MUNI riders in the affected age group said they would definitely purchase a monthly pass if it were discounted.
“That’s good, because $45 is too expensive for us as students,” said Yan Lu, 19, an SF State accounting major, as she waited for the M line above campus.
Sam Subia and Maggie Oblanca, 19-year-old SF State nursing students, said the proposed discount would be convenient, considering their limited finances.
“Our jobs are mainly minimum wage, for most of us,” Oblanca said.
“The best thing to do is to save money,” Subia said. “I just think it’s going to be neat.”
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