San Francisco

Grad Students Propose Free Muni to Help Ease SF Congestion

A group of San Francisco graduate students say they may have found a key to thinning out the crush of Uber and Lyft cars clogging city streets: Make Muni free.

It’s not a wholly new idea. In fact, Muni even considered this once upon a time.

The local planning agency, LAFCO, heard the recommendations: free rides for everyone on buses and light rail and the subway.

The problem the students wanted to address is clogged city streets, made even worse by ride-hailing drivers out hustling for rides.

"Something like 50 percent of the traffic right now is either Uber or Lyft, and that’s not right," Muni rider Christopher Mika said.

The grad students from USF recommended that concentrating on service while freezing, reducing or eliminating transit fares would encourage riders to take public transportation.

A spokesman for Muni said the agency appreciates the suggestions.

"But we don’t have plans at this time of making Muni free," SFMTA spokesman Paul Rose said.

Fares aren’t the biggest part of Muni’s annual budget. Out of a $1.2 billion budget, fares amount to a fraction of that. Most of it comes from other sources, including traffic tickets and the city’s general fund.

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