January 17, 2017

San Francisco youth may get free Muni passes

Muni. Photo by Lydia Gans.

Muni. Photo by Lydia Gans.

San Francisco may soon start a pilot program of free monthly Muni passes for all city youth ages 5 – 17. The city’s Municipal Transportation Agency (MTA) will be considering the idea, perhaps as soon as Tue., March 6.

This program will help make San Francisco a truly Transit First city and help to meet our climate-action goals by reducing automobile trips. It will build a new generation of transit riders who will support transit funding and strategies that support transit in the future. It will also support families of all income levels who want to raise children in San Francisco rather than move to auto-dependent suburbs.

The program will be affordable for the MTA budget because partial funding  is being pursued from the school district, the county Transportation Authority, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, and various grants.

The program is especially timely since the school district has recently reduced its free bus service, and plans to reduce it further–by almost half–over the next two years. In addition, the cost of Muni’s Youth Fast Pass has increased 110% in recent years, and usage has declined. 21,000 passes were loaded in October 2009 compared to just 10,000 in October 2011; the price rose from $10 to $21 over the same time period.


Write as soon as possible to the MTA Board at MTABoard@SFMTA.com and MTA Director Ed Reiskin at ed.reiskin@sfmta.com. Urge the MTA to implement free bus passes for San Francisco youth.

Rebecca Evans, chair, Sierra Club San Francisco Group


  1. Anne-Marie Boyce says:

    Free Youth Passes are a great idea!
    Congratulations for being so forward thinking.

  2. Richard Stookey says:

    Good idea. Only good can come from building a new generation of bus riders — rather than yet another generation of automobile drivers.

  3. Peggy da Silva says:

    Although I am a whole-hearted advocate of transit, and have ridden MUNI since my youth, I cannot support this idea. I do not see any evidence that giving kids free passes will build “a new generation of transit riders.” What will build this new generation — and convert people of all generations into transit riders — is better transit. That means we put funds into strategies that will make MUNI a more desirable option for all. It also means that we start to chip away at the dominance of motor vehicles on our streets, by, for example, building bus bulb outs, transit-only lanes and signals that prioritize transit.
    Efforts to provide financial support to low-income San Franciscans are certainly worthwhile. We could subsidize gas & electric, provide funding for housing. Such supports make more sense than taking money from our already-strapped transit system.

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