Mayor London Breed and Supervisor Myrna Melgar Announce Expansion of Free Muni for All Youth Program
SFMTA will expand the Free Muni for Youth Program starting August 15 to benefit over 100,000 youth 19 and under in San Francisco
San Francisco, CA — Mayor London N. Breed, Supervisor Myrna Melgar, and the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) will be expanding the Free Muni for Youth Program to include all youth starting August 15, 2021, in conjunction with the full-in-person-return of the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) 2021-2022 school year.
The expansion will now allow all youth under the age of 19 to ride Muni, regardless of financial status or verification, without proof of payment. The one-year program will eliminate the current Free Muni for Youth application process.
“So many of our youth depend on Muni to get around the City, and these fares have a significant impact on their budgets,” said Mayor Breed. “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. I want to thank Supervisor Melgar for all her work pushing to make this a reality.”
There are currently 39,350 active users of the Free Muni for Youth program, representing approximately 72% of those eligible. Existing participants will no longer need to carry their Clipper Card with the pass or tap the reader when boarding Muni vehicles. While Muni Transit Fare Inspectors will not request proof of payment from youth who appear to be under the age of 19, youth above the age of 16 are encouraged to carry a student ID or other form of identification for age verification. Existing Free Muni for Youth participants can continue to use their Clipper Card with this pass to access Cable Car service. San Francisco youth who don’t already have this pass can request one from the SFMTA. Cable Car rides for non-resident youth are not covered in the program.
“I am so grateful to Mayor London Breed for funding this initiative, and I also appreciate my colleagues for their tireless work on accessible and reliable transit,” said Supervisor Melgar. “The organizing of generations of youth advocates have made Free Muni For All Youth a reality, especially the work of Chinese Progressive Association, CYC, Poder, Coleman Advocates, Jamestown Community Center and the SF Youth Commission. The start of the program will coincide with our kids being back to school in person this fall. 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.”
The SFMTA implemented the Free Muni for Youth pilot program in 2013, providing free transit service to all low and moderate-income youth in San Francisco ages 5 to 17, making the program permanent in January 2015. In April 2020, the program was expanded to include 18-year-old students, seniors and people with disabilities, and students enrolled in Special Education and English Learner programs through age 22. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the SFMTA lacked the financial resources to fund this program. By allocating $2 million in the upcoming budget, Mayor Breed is ensuring that Muni is accessible to the more than 100,000 youth across San Francisco.
Numerous studies have established a link between exposure to public transit at an early age and continued use through adult years, along with a decrease in auto-ownership. Additional program goals complementing the SFMTA Strategic Plan include improving the overall safety of the transit system, implementing programs and policies to advance San Francisco’s commitment to equity and sustainability, and ensuring the efficient movement of people and goods to provide a high quality of life and economic well-being.
“By welcoming San Francisco’s youngest residents aboard Muni free of charge, we are fostering the next generation of transit riders,” said Jeffrey Tumlin, SFMTA Director of Transportation. “We’re grateful for the city’s leadership in executing the Free Muni for Youth program.”
The SFMTA also provides Free Muni for seniors and persons with disabilities. Program eligibility is set at an annual income at or below 100 percent of the Bay Area median. The SFMTA Board of Directors expanded this program in 2020 to persons experiencing homelessness.
For more information about Free Muni for Youth and how to sign up for Cable Car service, please visit www.sfmta.com.