Free Muni for kids: Tough slog at the MTC

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Scott Wiener opposes free Muni for kids

There are plenty of reasons I like the David Campos free Muni for youth plan. Anything that gets the next generation used to seeing Muni as the primary form of transportation in town is a good idea. It's a great benefit for low-income kids (and around SF these days, the only ones who we're giving any benefits to are businesses that get tax breaks, and those breaks are worth far more than the modest cost of the Campos plan). But it's particularly important this year, because the school district is in serious financial straights and is probably going to eliminate most school-bus transportation next year. So poor kids and kids whose parents don't have cars will have a harder time getting to school.

The supervisors approved this, and the mayor signed off on it -- but some of the money is supposed to come from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, made up of regional representatives, and Campos is having a tough battle.

The MTC staff recommended that SF get $4 million in regional transit money for the idea, but not all, or even most, of the 16 members of the panel want to see one city get money for something all of them would love to do.

But: Someone has to try this as a pilot project, and SF, with the highest per-capita transit ridership, is a good place to start.

Sup. Scott Wiener is also on the MTC, representing San Francisco, and he's totally against the free Muni for youth plan. And when it come up at an MTC committee, he was willing to vote for it -- "I realize I lost that battle, and at the MTC I'm representing San Francisco," he said -- but only if MTC stipulated that no additional city money would go to the program.

And that kind of screws the whole thing up, since it will be hard to do with just the $4 million.

Ugh. Such a great idea, for a fraction of the money we're handing out like hot dogs to everyone who asks for a tax break. Why don't the poor kids get a break for once?