Today’s Headlines

  • Youth Muni Passes Could Cost SFMTA $13m (SF Examiner)
  • Driver Who Critically Injured Ped in the Richmond Arrested for DUI (BCN via Examiner)
  • Hit-and-Run Driver Who Killed WWII Vet Sentenced to Four Years (SF Examiner)
  • Santa Rosa Police Seek Witnesses to Driver Who Killed Ped in Hit-and-Run (Press Democrat)
  • Cable Car Operator Found at Fault in Oct. 6 Crash with Minivan (City Insider, BCN via Examiner)
  • Peer-to-Peer Car-Share Co-Founder “Dedicated to Battling Car Overpopulation” (SF Examiner)
  • San Bernardino Man Killed in Orinda Car Crash (CoCo Times)
  • 3-Day Outage in Blackberry Service Causes Drop in Vehicle Crashes in UAE (The National)
  • West Marin Bus Line 62 Canceled (Marin IJ)
  • New CA Law Increases Age Requirement for Booster Car Seats (Press Democrat)
  • “Amnesty Still Pricey” For California Driving Ticket Scofflaws (CBS 5)
More headlines at Streetsblog Capitol Hill
  • Sean

    Here is the much bigger story in Marin, recontracting away from GGT.

    Also, the article on Route 62 failed to mention that Route 68’s frequency is going from 3 to 1.5 hrs.

  • icarus12

    I think the free youth pass is a red herring, waved just before the elections in November and laid to rest in December.  Let’s prioritize maintenance and building out the system, not making something that people pay for now absolutely free in the future.  Everybody should have to pay at least a little bit for their fare.  Otherwise, people (all of us) use a resource without calculating its worth.  A free public education is a right.  A free ride is not.

  • What do you say about all those slacker kids in 95% of the school districts in the US that get a free (school) bus ride to school?

    If SFUSD – which has a system that results in kids not going to school in walkable range – is not going to bus them, they should get free MUNI passes. In the current setup, we’ve taken a sloppy way to balance the education budget by not providing transportation (to people who are too young to drive and most of whom are too young to bike alone, and many of whom are too young to walk alone). That money in part ends up in MUNI’s budget.

  • icarus12

    Hi murphstahoe,

    What do I say about the use of yellow school buses to transport children to school throughout the U.S?  That they are sometimes necessary, but often not, and a terrible use of scarce resources.  U.S. school districts spend so much on things other than a core curriculum  — cafeterias, organic food in those cafeterias, adulut crossing guards, buses and drivers, security guards, sports teams, thousands of redundant administrative districts (see Sonoma County for an eyeful on that last one — about 52 districts, I think).  So I’m no fan of the yellow school bus much of the time.

     As to your point about SF school children who have to take MUNI to school — that’s a good question.  I would answer that:

    1) we should give parents in financial need the money to buy either a regular youth pass or daily busfare for those days their child rides MUNI to or from school;

    2) we should not give any money to parents of children who are fortunate enough to live close to their school;

    3) we should not give money  to parents who can well afford $21 a month for their child’s transport.

    4) we should not make youth travel free, except for case #1.

  • Hi icarus –

    I see your viewpoint, it makes sense prima facie, but if you really think like a Capitalist, I think there is a better way of looking at it.

    1) OK, we agree. A monthly pass is less than daily busfare, so let’s call it a pass.

    2) This proposal does not give the parents *money*. It gives them a bus pass. A Clipper Card costs a couple of bucks to produce. If the child lives close to school and walks, then unless their parents are MUNI junkies that take their 8 year old all over town on MUNI, the Clipper Card would mostly go unused, except for things like school field trips where some students not having the pass could be painful for the teachers. The net cost to MUNI is a couple of bucks. However, if we impose a means test and a location test on the students before getting them a pass, we have to pay people to implement and monitor that program – which will cost more than a couple of bucks per student. So “not giving money” to those parents actually costs more than giving them money.

    3) See my last argument. A means test is more costly to administer than just handing the kids a pass. Additional arguments – there are parents on the boundary that will simply look at it and decide that they’d rather drive their kids to school than pay $21 a month, but if the kid has a pass they will put them on the bus. As someone who has to navigate gnarly traffic jams in front of Alvarado and Harvey Milk every day, this is something that I consider a good investment. The most likely way for a child to be killed in/around school these days is being run over by the parent of another student, dropping their kid off. When that happens, aside from the horror of the death there will always be a lawsuit – and you know the City will be a target.

    4) This is another cost issue. Not sure how much you use Clipper, but let me tell you they don’t exactly have brain surgeons over there. Now we will be asking them to produce a new pass type which is valid for youth only, and only during school commmute hours. This after we debate what those hours are – including things like after school programs. It’s a net negative from a monetary standpoint.

    Bigger cost issues that come into play as well. I firmly believe that something as trivial as a bus pass could play into reduced tardiness/truancy, which costs SFUSD a lot of money. My impression is that the highest incidence of fare evasion comes from children who would qualify for this pass. Giving them this pass removes that problem from the radar, which simplifies the fare enforecment problem for MUNI at the lowest cost (making all MUNI free would eliminate this problem but also eliminate a much more solid chunk of revenue, and would produce a host of other problems).

    Once you stop thinking about this as a MUNI budget problem and look at it from one level up – how will this impact the City financially as a whole, I consider this a big win. This is not me thinking as a bleeding heart liberal, but as a cold blooded capitalist.

    Your mileage may vary.

  • Anonymous

    In general, we have a lot of policies which benefit the lowest-income, which is not terrible, but it really makes it difficult for families to improve their situations. Republicans talk a lot about “not punishing success” by having wealthier people pay higher tax rates, but I think this sort of policy is far worse– if a family making $20k can qualify for free health care and bus passes for their kids, and one making $26k loses those benefits, it makes it really difficult to justify trying to get a better job or otherwise improve one’s situation– far more so than someone paying 3% extra on income above $250k. Additionally, it encourages social divisions between the “free lunch kids” and others. And this is not to mention the extra bureaucracy required to implement means-testing.

    Far better is to simply have a good, progressive tax structure which then pays for a good level of services for all children, whether it’s bus passes, health care or school lunches. 

    Now, there are cases where the resulting system might be inefficient– where the cost of providing the service to all is much higher than just letting individuals figure it out themselves (in keeping with the theme of this blog, parking is such an example, where government policy usually dictates that everyone must be provided parking at every location, even though it might be a very inefficient use of resources)– but I don’t think this is such a case. Providing a bunch of fast passes doesn’t cost a whole lot, as people who don’t need them simply won’t use them and cost nothing.