Leland Yee Latest to Call for Free Muni -- It's For the Kids!

Oily bus.jpg
Jim Herd
Guess what, kid? You get to wait for free, too.
Public transit issues are complicated -- but they're not quantum physics-complicated. Politicians really could improve San Franciscans' commutes and lives if they paid attention to straightforward concepts like transit-only lanes, prioritized Muni signals, and maintenance investment. But these are not sexy issues. So, again and again, San Francisco politicians' take on Muni comes out the same: Make it free!

State Sen. Leland Yee (D-San Francisco) is the latest politico to jump onto this free bandwagon, urging that all San Francisco public school students be entitled to ride Muni gratis. As Yee's mayoral campaign falters more and more, it will be interesting to see what he proposes be made free next.

Still, this isn't the worst example of pandering to the masses by disemboweling Muni's operating budget. Willie Brown, Gavin Newsom, and Tom Ammiano are just a few of the pols who've proposed making Muni free for one and all. Funny thing about cheap populism, though -- it ain't cheap.

Making Muni free would essentially do away with a quarter of its budget; the service recoups 25 percent of its operating expenses via fares. That's in the ballpark of $200 million a year.

Providing students with a free ride, however, is a more conceivable affair. Providing free passes for low-income kids for the months of April, May, and June cost Muni some $1 million. Muni spokesman Paul Rose is currently figuring how much making rides for all public school kids would cost the system. We'll update this story when he gets back to us -- but, it warrants mentioning that a kid rides on the bus for 75 cents, a monthly youth pass costs $20, and Muni sells about 18,000 of them a month. That brings in around $360,000 a month during the school year.

Of course, rather than asking Muni to do more for less (or free!) once again, a novel idea might be to sell bulk passes or Clipper Cards at a discount to schools. These can then be given out for free, sold at a deep discount, or used to wallpaper the break room. It's up to the institutions in question.

That would make some sense. But it wouldn't deliver the populist punch of bellowing "Free Muni!" Won't somebody please think of the children?

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6 comments
Guest
Guest

yee is an idiot. More taxes to pay for this no doubt.

teaks mama
teaks mama

so, maybe rich folks who won't ride muni or bart would react kindly to a request for yearly donations to finance free operations.  why would they do this, you ask?  because the more people who ride public transportation, the easier freeway and city auto travel becomes, as well as more available parking.  

Guest
Guest

You haven't factored in the savings from not having to collect fares, which would be considerable. Muni could easily make up the difference by taxing weekly newspapers, like the SFWeekly to pay the difference.

MrEricSir
MrEricSir

Is this really newsworthy? Yee will say anything to get elected.

Adrian Johnson
Adrian Johnson

This is a great idea, I could buy the "free pass" from the students and put it in my wallet and just scan it on the bus, we should implement this right away...

____
____

Sure!  Excellent idea from spineless yee.  Why not throw in free markers and spray so they can tag the buses.  Or brass knuckles so they fight amongst themselves or mug paying passengers.

Yee - trying thinking with your head instead of your A Hole

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