A growing number of low-income youth who depend on public transit in San Francisco are finding it harder to afford the trip to class, but a resolution introduced by Supervisor David Campos this week could pave the way toward providing free Muni passes for the rest of the school year to thousands of students who are regular Muni riders.
“For many poor families in San Francisco, public transportation is actually the only option,” said Mattias Mormino, the project coordinator at the Single-Room Occupancy (SRO) Families United Collaborative, a community-based organization that partners with the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) to provide transportation for homeless and displaced students. ”It’s not like they can choose to leave the car in the garage.”
A survey [pdf] of SFUSD high school students showed nearly 70 percent commute by public transportation while the number of students who come from families with incomes low enough to qualify for free or discounted lunches is up to 61 percent this year.
Despite those numbers, last May the SFMTA Board voted to increase the price of Youth Muni Fast Passes from $10 to $20. Recently, the SFUSD Board cut fifty percent of the district’s school buses, eliminating another transportation option for many students. As more families face economic hardships and federally-supported student transportation programs are cut, Mormino says the number of families struggling to afford transporting their children to school is growing by the month.