San Francisco’s Municipal Transportation Agency has a program that provides free Muni to low- and moderate-income youth, and on Jan. 20 its board will consider extending the free passes to seniors and disabled riders. SFMTA spokesman Paul Rose says the program has broad support and is likely to pass.

“We want to make sure that people who are on fixed incomes do have access to Muni so they can get where they need to go,” said Rose.

Each month Muni issues about 17,000 discounted senior passes and 7,000 passes to riders with disabilities.

The proposed free program is expected to cost anywhere from $4 million to $8 million. Last April, when the board approved free rides for youth, it rejected bringing seniors and the disabled under the program.

While the SFMTA has lost revenue from the discontinuation of metering for Sunday parking, the passage of Proposition A and B has provided new funding.

Extending the free ridership program has been on the agenda of advocates for the past year. Donna Willmott is a transit justice activist with Senior & Disability Action, an organization working to educate and bring seniors and people with disabilities together to fight for their rights. She  told KQED’s Bryan Goebel last year that with the rising cost of city living, namely rent, the burden of paying for a Muni pass or even an individual Muni trip can be overwhelming for some.

Jessica Lehman, executive director of Senior & Disability Action, told Goebel that many elderly and disabled riders don’t own cars and rely on public transit as their primary mode of transportation. But for some, discounted fares represent a luxury.

“Even when you’re talking about discount fares, seniors and people with disabilities often don’t have money for that,” she told Goebel. “If you’re living on SSI or Social Security and you’re only getting about $800 a month, we all know how expensive rent is right now, and it’s only going up.”

In San Francisco, Free Muni for Seniors, Disabled Seems Likely 2 January,2015KQED News Staff

  • sfparkripoff

    MUNI not free! It is paid for with passing bonds, raising taxes, and
    preying on middle and lower income residents. I seem to recall Senior
    and Disability Action endorsing Prop A and Prop B in the November 2014
    election. The “transit justice activists” and other non-profits
    complain that the city is expensive and they cant afford
    their rents then they turn around and endorse bond measures that raise
    rents and property taxes FOR EVERYONE so that they can get “free Muni”.

    Prop
    A authorizes San Francisco’s government to sell $500 million in
    transportation General Obligation bonds. Including interest on the
    bonds,
    Prop A will cost the tax payers of San Francisco over a billion
    dollars. In addition Prop. A permits a property-tax increase to pay for
    the bonds and allows landlords could pass up to 50 percent of the tax increase to tenants.

    Prop
    B cuts $22 million from police, parks, street cleaning, homeless
    programs and mental health services, and redirects this money with no
    strings to the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency

    This
    is not social justice. If Senior and Disability Action wants “Free
    Muni” at the expense of higher taxes and rents for others who are
    struggling to stay in the city then they should sit down, and shut up
    about landlords raising their rents and taxes. If Senior and Disability
    Action cant afford the about the high cost of living in San Francisco
    then the should stop asking for handouts and think about who is
    actually paying for their “Free MUNI”.

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