Free Muni rides hit funding pothole

It sounded great when the San Francisco Municipal Transit Agency approved a proposal in April to allow low-income youth to ride Muni for free. Predictably, though, not everyone is on board with the plan.

The proposal was contingent on $5 million in funding from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission. On Wednesday, the MTC denied SFMTA’s request for funding.

The pilot program was originally approved by SFMTA to run from August through May 2014. The program would cost approximately $9.4 million and provide free transit rides for 40,000 low-income youth city residents.

Instead, MTC recommended $4 million in funding for Muni, with the remaining $1 million going towards a similar pilot program in Santa Clara County. However, six MTC members couldn’t even agree on this recommendation, deadlocking 3-3.

Several MTC commissioners had concerns about the sustainability and equity of the program, and wanted SFMTA to address those issues before the next meeting.

Without an agreement on the recommendation, the plan can’t be voted on by the full MTC commission later this month. SFMTA must now wait until the committee rehashes their decision at  their July committee meeting.

But remember, this program was scheduled to go into effect in August.

San Francisco Supervisor David Campos, represents The City on the MTC and has been the chief advocate for the pilot program. He told The Ex:

“I remain confident that we’ll get the funding and support from the region. This is not something that’s going to go away. We’re going to come back in July and try to figure this thing out.”

However, even if the full amount of funding is approved, Campos admitted that he was unsure if it would arrive in time for the upcoming school year.