From Supervisor Dean Preston
In a historic vote, the Board of Supervisors approved the City’s first universal free public transit program. Supervisors Preston, Haney, Ronen, Walton, Chan, Mar, and Peskin voted in support of the Free Muni pilot, with Supervisors Melgar, Safai, Mandelman, and Stefani dissenting.
“Today, the legislative body of our city sent a clear message that San Francisco supports free Muni,” said Supervisor Preston. “This proposal proposes to put hundreds of dollars into the average Muni rider’s pocket. It’s the least our city can do for Muni riders after this nightmare year.”
The legislation provides $12.5 million in new funds to offset any fare revenue loss from a three month free muni pilot. The funds are conditioned on the MTA launching the fare free pilot July 1 – September 30.
The Mayor has vowed to veto the legislation and stop the MTA from receiving the extra $12.5m for fare relief. If she follows through, the Board would need eight votes to override the veto. Even though Supervisor Melgar supported free Muni during her campaign, she voted against the pilot, stopping proponents from gaining the eighth vote that would have made the Mayor’s veto threat irrelevant.
If the Mayor follows through with her threat to veto the pilot, San Francisco would fall behind other cities such as Boston, Washington D.C., Kansas City and others that have implemented free transit or are testing the waters. Most recently, Fresno announced fare-free public transit during the pandemic and even BART has opted to waive 50% of fares to incentivize ridership.
“Our members are really hurting right now and the current Muni programs just aren’t enough,” said PJ Eugenio of South of the Market Community Action Network (SOMCAN), which organized support for the pilot. “We needed this relief badly, and were shocked that the mayor would threaten a veto over legislation that would support so many San Francisco residents.”
The pilot would line up with the reopening of the economy, as the MTA is loosening its social distancing guidelines on transit on June 15. The loosening of restrictions will dramatically expand capacity on Muni, just in time to accommodate additional ridership from Free Muni during a time when ridership is at historic lows.
Supervisor Preston and Haney previously called on the Mayor to expand fare relief for struggling San Franciscans regardless of the fate of the Free Muni Pilot. They released a statement jointly urging the Mayor to include fare relief in her budget, specifically to expand eligibility for Free Muni for youth and the Lifeline Pass program. The Mayor’s budget was released last week and contained no funds for fare relief.
“The Mayor has an opportunity to show that despite a year of suspended lines and endless waits, the City still cares about Muni riders and wants to welcome people back to transit,” said Supervisor Preston. “It’s time to sign this legislation to help struggling San Franciscan workers recover from this pandemic.”
Categories: Press Release