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Free Muni for All Youth Ages 18 and Under to Begin on August 15

A program providing free rides on San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency buses, trains and cable cars for people under age 19 will expand to last the entire 2021-2022 school year, city leaders announced on Monday.

The expanded Free Muni for Youth program is set to take effect on August 15, a day before San Francisco Unified School District schools will reopen for all students.

The one-year program is expected to provide some 100,000 youth free access on Muni. According to Mayor London Breed’s office, $2 million in the upcoming budget has been allocated to cover this initiative.

With the program’s expansion, youth under 19 won’t need to fill out an application for the program and can simply hop aboard a Muni bus without having to tag their Clipper card.

Fare inspectors won’t request proof of payment for people who are visibly under 19 years old, however, youth above 16 are encouraged to carry their student ID or other form of identification, city officials said.

“So many of our youth depend on Muni to get around the city, and these fares have a significant impact on their budgets,” said Breed in a statement.

“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.”

For cable car service, however, San Francisco youth will need to obtain a pass, which is provided by the SFMTA. “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,” said Supervisor Myrna Melgar, an advocate for the program.

The Free Muni for Youth program began in 2013 for moderate- to low-income youth, and previously required an application process.

In April 2020, the SFMTA Board of Directors approved expanding Free Muni for Youth beyond disadvantaged youth to all youth, but the COVID-19 pandemic made funding for the program scarce. At the moment, there are 39,350 residents who benefit from the Free Muni program, representing approximately 72% of those who are eligible.

SFMTA Director of Transportation Jeffrey Tumlin said he welcomed the expanded program, as it falls in line with Muni’s commitment to equity and boosting the city’s economic recovery.

“By welcoming San Francisco’s youngest residents aboard Muni free of charge, we are fostering the next generation of transit riders,” he said.

For more information about the program, you can visit the SFMTA website.

Daniel Montes of Bay City News contributed to this post.

Copyright 2021 KQED