Campos takes credit for Muni youth program

The Free Muni for Youth Pilot Program served 31,000 San Francisco youth last year while costing the city $2 million less than anticipated, according to a report released yesterday.

The San Francisco Budget and Legislative Analyst’s reported the program, approved April 2012 to give low and moderate income students free access to Muni, cost the city $2,927,438 annually.

Supervisor David Campos, who is competing against Supervisor David Chiu for a State Assembly seat, was quick to take credit for originally introducing the bill:

“At a time when so many families are struggling to make ends meet in San Francisco, this program is making a positive impact on peoples’ lives. This report is further proof that this program is popular, impactful, and financially possible.”

Campos, a Bernal Heights resident who originally entered the country as an undocumented immigrant at age 14, would be the first Latino to represent San Francisco in the State Assembly if he’s elected.

Campos was also endorsed by the Service Employees International Union Tuesday. The SEIU represents 700,000 social workers, nurses, classroom aides, state workers, security officers, college professors, home care workers and janitors.

Alysabeth Alexander, SEIU 1021’s Vice President of Politics, said in a statement that Campos was the choice for blue collar workers:

“David Campos has been a champion for all working people, has stood against corporate tax loopholes and for public services, and we know we can count on him to be a champion for Californians who need help the most from Sacramento. We compared the records and the choice was clear.”

So far Campos has raised $216,000 in campaign donations compared to Chiu’s $450,000, according to the California Secretary of State.

Campos was chair of the the San Francisco County Transportation Authority when the Muni Youth program was introduced. The program was designed to include 18-year-old students, but the transit board limited the program to 5 to 17-year-olds.

It would cost the city an additional $1,148,659 to include low and moderate income 18-year-olds in the program, according to Campos’s office.

The program was orginally budgeted to cost $5.1 million and serve an estimated 40,000 youth participants.  It also included graffiti clean up costs, said San Francisco Municipal Transit Authority Chief Financial Officer Sonali Bose, during a transit agency meeting Tuesday.

To qualify for free passes, families must make less than the average income in the Bay Area, which the SFMTA puts at $82,400 for a family of two and $103,000 for a family of four.

Mission resident and mother of two Manuela Esteva said she depends on Muni to get her children to school.

“Since we have had the free passes these past months, it has been a relief for my family. I do not have to worry when I don’t have enough money about how to get my two daughters to school.”

There will be public hearings to discuss the MTA’s budget with a final vote expected April 15. The next public hearing will be conducted March 4 at City Hall.

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