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?  



Good idea, but all kids should be free, not just the ones who come from poor families. And what about Private Schools, are they a lesser class who still have to pay?

Posted by Chris Pratt on Jan. 31, 2011 @ 4:52 pm

If you can afford private school for your precious ones, you can afford to give them busfare unless you're cheapskates.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 01, 2011 @ 4:11 pm

I fully support free MUNI for kids. Not just b/c it gets SFUSD a little relief, but mostly because it encourages kids to get used to riding MUNI. This has long-term positive consequences for our city as we grow generations of kids that are comfortable with public transportation. It's being done in LA and NYC, and seems to be working for them.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 31, 2011 @ 4:53 pm

They wouldn't have to take the bus. And MUNI wouldn't have to worry about subsidizing their transportation.

The solution? End the lottery and allow kids to attend the school nearest to where they live.

Why is this not a no-brainer?

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Jan. 31, 2011 @ 5:14 pm

"allow kids to attend the school nearest to where they live."

You mean, *force* kids to attend the school nearest to where they live.

Posted by Greg on Jan. 31, 2011 @ 5:52 pm

Some people really wish it was the 50's again.

The "woman" you're responding to has a stick about a mile up "her" butt. Good luck with "her".

Posted by Bon on Jan. 31, 2011 @ 5:58 pm

Neighborhood schools = Jim Crow.
Commenter = has stick up her ass.

Tell that to the Chinese parents who occupied the school district headquarters because they were so furious their kids endured an hour long commute to school each way, every day. Those parents really should have been wearing white sheets and carrying a noose! Because people who want their children close to them are really nothing more than racists!

It appears you're the one with no substance.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Jan. 31, 2011 @ 6:43 pm

Bon, you're a bit of an ass, you obviously do not have to drive your kids across town every morning and pick them up every evening, but none the less, come out with a very profound statement like that, welllllllllllllllllllllllllllll done!

Posted by Patrick Brown on Jan. 31, 2011 @ 9:42 pm

The current lottery system - where you are basically not allowed to go to the school in your hood is WORKING WONDERS for the kids of SF. Yes, please maintain the status quo by labeling everyone racist if they want to be able to send their kids to the neighborhood school and driving most folks who would actually be involved in their kids' schools away from SF public schools.

Posted by Thinker on Feb. 01, 2011 @ 1:49 pm

Man, have you ever been on a bus with middle-school kids? They're always loud and obnoxious and snacking. Nobody's going to want to ride Muni after this.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 31, 2011 @ 6:27 pm

This bears repeating because the proponents of neighborhood schools want to speak in pleasant euphemisms.

You guys don't want to "allow" kids to attend the schools closest to their homes. You want to FORCE kids to attend schools closest to their homes. Isn't that correct?

Let's call this what it really is: segregation.

Posted by Greg on Jan. 31, 2011 @ 10:09 pm

Yep force kids to attend the closest to their home, how is that segregation.

I am sure your world view wants to see SF as a segregated city but it is not.

So by making kids attend their local school you would raise the level of schools like John Muir, and Starr King General Ed, and Daniel Webster, as all these schools have some nice housing in their catchment area, like Alamo Square and Portero Hill.

But carry on making the argument that this is segregation 'cause that verifies your Weltanschauung.

Posted by Chris Pratt on Jan. 31, 2011 @ 10:32 pm

San Francisco is made up of many neighborhoods that have their own "distinctive" "flavor," such as Chinatown, Bayview, the Castro, Western Addition, the Marina, etc. What you'll find if you take off your blinders and open your eyes, is that each of these neighborhoods are defined by the price of their homes first, and by the types of occupants that can AFFORD the prices. This translates into segregation, which translates into each neighborhood school's demographic makeup.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 01, 2011 @ 4:08 pm

Now that the city has provided all of the new bike lanes with more to come, why can't kids ride their bikes to school. This method of getting to school would also cut down the problem of childhood obesity and it's totally GREEN! A real Win Win deal for all concerned.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 31, 2011 @ 10:10 pm

Most of us who are older attended neighborhood schools. When all the kids in a neighborhood go to the same school, the parents hear about the teachers from their neighbors and other kids. The school is central focus of the neighborhood and is close enough for parents to be closely involved with PTA, as well as being able to walk to school fairs, science fairs, school plays, etc.

Siblings stay together. Kids can walk to and from school. No bussing for the racial beancounters.

The sixties are over and people really need to move on.

Posted by Scott on Feb. 01, 2011 @ 8:48 am

The problem with neighborhood schools is that we still have segregated neighborhoods in SF; some racial segregation, lots of socio-economic segregation. Schools in wealthier neighborhoods will have more money and programs, since rich parents have the resources (and often the time) to put into the schools their kids attend. Schools in poor neighborhoods will be second-class operations.

Because the reality is that SFUSD doesn't have the money to provide all the programs the schools need, so parents have to chip in. Parents at my daughter's public school raise the money to pay for smaller classrooms and a Spanish language teacher. And since the school is very diverse, and has poor kids and (some) pretty rich kids, the parents with more money contribute and all the students benefit.

Diversity -- including ethnic and economic diversity -- makes a school better. You can't get there today, sadly, with purely neighborhood schools.

And I'm all in favor of kids biking to school. Doesn't work for younger kids, though; I won't let my son ride his bike alone on city streets until I'm convinced he's paying enough attention not to get hit by a car. Seventh grade, maybe.

Posted by Tim Redmond on Feb. 01, 2011 @ 11:14 am

Tim, agree with much of what you say. Would you let your kid ride Muni to school? Sadly, many parents would not. As for the earlier comment regarding the negative behavior of kids on the buses, part of our job is to teach children and adults the right way to ride public transport. We don't do much of that now, but if a preponderance of kids took Muni, then that should be part of the program.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 01, 2011 @ 5:32 pm

Perpetuating the myth that SF is segregated validates your argument. However SF is by no means segregated. Possibly I'll buy Pac Heights and Sea Cliff are (but lets face it they will never send their kids to Public school).

But most areas in SF you will find all sorts of housing within a school catchment, for instance Starr King, Daniel Webster, John Muir have a very diverse social economic demographic. Even McKinley has a variety of renters and owners in its catchment area.

So your argument is not valid.

If you look at the local economy if you want people to stay in SF we have to educate the kids to get good paying jobs. With the current state of our schools kids will be leaving the city when they graduate as they won't be qualified for the jobs of the future. I have been making this argument for the last 20 years, yet SF schools are still not focused on ensuring all kids go to college, and so they fight for the few construction jobs left.

Posted by Chris Pratt on Feb. 01, 2011 @ 2:22 pm

Please sign my petition to encourage David Campos to run for mayor of SF (see link below). Thank you!

Posted by Lisa Pelletier on Feb. 04, 2011 @ 5:59 pm