A program providing free rides on San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency buses, trains and cable cars for people under age 19 will expand to last the entire 2021-2022 school year, city leaders announced Monday.
The expanded Free Muni for Youth program is set to take effect on Aug. 15, a day before San Francisco Unified School District schools will reopen for all students.
The one-year program is expected to provide some 100,000 youth free access on Muni.
"So many of our youth depend on Muni to get around the city, and these fares have a significant impact on their budgets," Mayor London Breed said in a statement. "I can't wait to see Muni buses packed with students eager to return to the classroom this fall. This expansion will make San Francisco more accessible for all of our youth and, hopefully, foster a new generation of Muni riders."
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With the program's expansion, youth under 19 won't need to fill out an application for the program and can simply hop aboard a Muni bus without having to tag their Clipper card. Fare inspectors won't request proof of payment for people who are visibly under 19 years old, however, youth above 16 are encouraged to carry their student ID or other form of identification, city officials said.
For cable car service, however, San Francisco youth will need to obtain a pass, which is provided by the SFMTA.
"Lowering the entry barrier to children and youth ensures access for everyone and will develop a generation of public transit riders, while we focus on improving Muni's reliability and service in the recovery," said Supervisor Myrna Melgar, an advocate for the program.
The Free Muni for Youth program began in 2013 for moderate- to low-income youth, and previously required an application process.
In April 2020, the SFMTA Board of Directors approved expanding Free Muni for Youth beyond disadvantaged youth to all youth, but the COVID-19 pandemic made funding for the program scarce. However, the program's expansion to all youth under 19 was made possible through $2 million allocated to the program by Breed in this year's budget.
SFMTA Director of Transportation Jeffrey Tumlin said he welcomed the expanded program, as it falls in line with Muni's commitment to equity and boosting the city's economic recovery.
"By welcoming San Francisco's youngest residents aboard Muni free of charge, we are fostering the next generation of transit riders," he said.
For more information about the program, or how to sign up for a Cable Car pass, visit www.sfmta.com.
CORRECTION (5:10 p.m., Tuesday, July 13, 2021): A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that the program was expanded to include youth 19 and under. A news release from the mayor's office made a reference to the program benefiting youth 19 and younger, but the program is for people under 19 years old, not including 19-year-olds.