Dozens of people filled room 400 of San Francisco City Hall this afternoon to weigh in on the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s proposal to provide free transit passes to low-income youth.
After the proposal failed to pass, the board agreed to continue the discussion to the next meeting so more information can be gathered, SFMTA spokesman Paul Rose said.
The SFMTA board was considering the free transit passes as part of a budget proposal for the next two fiscal years, one that includes extending parking meter hours to Sundays.
Supporters of the transit pass proposal came out in droves, spilling into two overflow rooms during the meeting, especially because the SFMTA board pushed the item back on the agenda to allow students coming from school to be able to attend.
Several supervisors supporting the proposal–Supervisors John Avalos, David Campos and Jane Kim–popped into the meeting to chime in during public comment.
“I respectfully ask that you make history today and make public transit free for all children in San Francisco,” Campos said to the board.
The effort to obtain free Muni for youth dates back to almost a year ago and was spearheaded by Campos, who introduced a resolution in support of the idea at a Board of Supervisors meeting in September.
All three supervisors stressed that the proposal is about more than just providing financial assistance to low-income youth, saying that it is the opportunity for the city to create the next generation of transit riders.
San Francisco Board of Education Commissioner Kim Shree said the proposal also encourages families to ride Muni. “We want that shift in ideology” that families do not need a car to get around San Francisco.
“As they start to take Muni more and more, (parents) start to figure out, ‘Well, it around San Francisco.
“As they start to take Muni more and more, (parents) start to figure out, ‘Well, if my kids are taking Muni, I can take Muni as an adult to work,'” Shree said.
The board failed to pass the proposal for free transit passes for low-income youth when it deadlocked with a vote of 3-3, Rose said.
The board again voted 3-3 on a proposal for free transit passes for all youth.
Both proposals will be continued to the next board meeting on April 17, Rose said.
Rose said board members wanted to gather more information on the topic, including the differences between the two proposals and related funding, before they vote again.
For the larger operating and capital budget proposals for the next two fiscal years, the majoriote again.
For the larger operating and capital budget proposals for the next two fiscal years, the majority of members of the public commenting strongly opposed the idea of extending parking hour meters to Sundays.
The proposal calls for enforcing meters on Sundays between noon and 6 p.m., with the hope of creating parking turnover in commercial corridors.
The majority of opponents of the meter proposal who spoke at today’s meeting were faith community leaders, who said that charging for metered parking on Sundays would adversely affect their services and burden their communities.
Not all commenters agreed, though. “God never said that parishioners are entitled to free parking on Sundays,” commenter David Varnam said.
“A transit-first city has got to encourage public transit use through properly funded Muni service even as it discourages the private automobile,” Varnam said.
Rose said the SFMTA budget discussion will also be continued at the next meeting on April 17.
Patricia Decker, Bay City News