Free Muni for kids


Sup. David Campos is talking about offering free Muni rides for some of San Francisco's youth, and he'd like free passes for all school kids next year. That's a great way for the city to work with SFUSD; the school district spends a huge amount of money on buses. In fact, transportation is the second biggest item in the district's budget (after salaries). There ought to be a way for kids (above a certain age; maybe fifth grade) who now take SFUSD buses to get on Muni instead.

And let me tell you all a little secret: Most of the middle-school kids who ride Muni never pay anyway. They all pile on the bus after school and some have passes and some don't and the driver can't possibly keep up with who's got what when 50 young people are climbing aboard all at once.

So if we can let them all ride free we can save money for the schools, which can go into the classrooms, and make life easier on the drivers and kids who can avoid the crazy scramble.

And if we can't do that, or if the city wants some sort of reimbursement, there's an easy solution: Sell Muni passes in the schools. Not to get too bureaucratic, but SFUSD already keeps track of family income levels (that's how they do the free lunches) and it wouldn't be that hard to issue Clipper cards that allow low-income kids to ride free. Kids who can afford it would get a card at the beginning of the year and their parents could put money on it at the Clipper web site (or the kids could do it themselves with a machine in the school office.)

I know it sounds complicated, but it's way more complicated now; you have to take your kid in person to buy a youth pass and present a birth certificate. Way easier to do it at the schools, where that data is already in the system. A good deal for all: SFUSD agrees to devote one staffer at each middle and high school to the (part-time) job of issuing bus cards, and in exchange SFUSD students get to ride Muni free or cheap -- and SFUSD gets to cut its transportation budget.

Why is this not a no-brainer?  


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