Youth Activists: Poor Adults Get Muni Discounts, Poor Kids Don't

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The kids are not all right...
Members of the San Francisco Youth Commission will speak out today at the Board of Supervisors meeting against the proposed fare increases for kids -- and point out what they claim is a double standard: Poor adults qualify for reduced-price Fast Passes, while poor children do not.

The city's Youth Commission passed a resolution earlier this month asking that the price only be raised to $20 for this fiscal year from its current $15, and that kids who qualify for free or reduced price lunch -- the barometer for poverty in schools -- be eligible for half-price passes. (Poor adults qualify for $30 Lifeline passes instead of the normal $60 Muni-only Fast Pass.) Of course, you could counter that kids already get reduced-price passes, paying the same $15 as seniors and the disabled. But the price may well double to $30 a month in April to close Muni's whopping deficit.

It's no secret that the commission members are a little pissed off at the prospect of increased prices, with the commission's Program and Policy Coordinator Mario Yedidia dropping the f-bomb while talking with the Weekly about the issue: "54.3 percent of the [school] district qualifies for free- and reduced-price lunch. That's really fucking poor in San Francisco. I'm sorry I cursed right there. It would probably be best to talk to our young people."

Yedidia put two young people on the phone. Youth Commissioner Hillary Liang says she takes the 30 and the M to Lowell High School each day from her home in North Beach. Her dad lost his job last year, but her parents will have to shell out $90 a month under the proposed increase to put her and her two siblings on the bus to school. That's more than a day's earnings at San Francisco's minimum wage of $9.79, by the way.

Commissioner Leah LaCroix is a freshman at San Francisco State. "We understand that they have this major budget deficit, but we're going all over the numbers and they're not generating that much money to close the budget as they are creating hardships for families."

The students will be staging a press conference on City Hall's steps at 3:30 before they make statements during public comment at the supes' meeting. They hope some will make it out to the MTA board's meeting on Friday -- during which the board members will decide whether to ask the Board of Supervisors to move ahead with the proposed increases. But Yedidia said they probably couldn't get as much turnout; it's a school day, and the commission doesn't want to fuel another big problem in the district: truancy

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