Muni launches free riding program for seniors, disabled

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- San Francisco's Municipal Transportation Agency Board unanimously approved a proposal that will offer free Muni rides to seniors and people with disabilities.

The vote comes after the agency approved giving free Muni rides to low and moderate income youth last year.

On Tuesday, Lee praised Muni for following through and issued the following statement: "In my State of the City address, I called upon the SFMTA to expand free Muni to low-income seniors and people with disabilities, and I thank the Board of Directors for answering this call today. Also today, I call upon the private sector to partner with us, once again, and help fund this vital service that supports our city's most vulnerable."

Rallies like the one held Tuesday have put the pressure on Muni for the past year. Senior citizens and the disabled say they need to ride Muni free of charge.

Right now the adult fare is $68 a month. Low and moderate-income seniors and riders with disabilities pay $23, but Mira Ingram says even that is still too much for her. "I have to pick between the Muni or maybe getting some more food, or something like that," she said.

Last year the transportation agency gave low-income young people a free ride, which Google has agreed to pay for two years.

Rommie Whitaker says he needs a break too. "It'll free up money in my already tight budget," he said.

Muni estimates at least 24,000 San Franciscans will be able to benefit and the board of directors unanimously agreed to spend an estimated $4 million to fund the program for one year.

"I think it's a matter of social justice. The divisions in the city between the wealthy and the poor are so wide, this is a small step we can take. I think it will make a difference," SFMTA Board Chairman Tom Nolan said.

One speaker who says she represents an organization of people with developmental disabilities opposes the plan, saying the money should go to fix Muni. "To me they'll lose money on transportation and that's why they need more buses," Gena Lynn said.

But transit officials say with Proposition A and Proposition B approved by the voters last November, the agency is in better financial health and announced service increases on more than half of all Muni lines.

"I'm going to go out and celebrate, take Muni to the park and enjoy the sun," one woman said.

Free Muni for seniors and people with disabilities begins March 1. For more information on how to sign up, click here.
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