Free MUNI for Youth
The Free MUNI for Youth Campaign (FMFY) was formed to address the mobility and accessibility crisis for school-age youth in San Francisco. Families were facing the end of school bus service due to budget cuts, the rapidly rising cost of MUNI youth passes, and increasing criminalization from fare enforcement. Yet San Francisco youth still needed to get to schools outside their neighborhoods and access jobs and after-school programs. A group of community and advocacy organizations formed the Free MUNI for Youth Coalition to address these conditions, as well as the politics of austerity, budget cuts, and the affordability crisis confronting San Francisco's working class and immigrant communities.
Coalition members included Urban Habitat, POWER, Chinatown Community Development Corporation, the San Francisco Youth Commission, Jamestown Community Center, and the Office of San Francisco Supervisor David Campos.
The campaign prioritized the mobility needs of the next generation of transit riders, getting more youth out of cars and into active transportation. It also sought to address the climate crisis by reducing school-commute car trips and changing youth attitudes towards public transit. This youth-led campaign fought for over two years to identify local funding sources for a sixteen-month pilot program. The pilot program launched in March 2013 with over 40,000 low- and moderate-income youth eligible across San Francisco. Over 30,000 youth enrolled in the pilot phase. The FMFY pass is valid year-round so that youth can access schools, after-school programs, jobs, internship opportunities and city-wide amenities such as parks, arts and cultural institutions, and recreation centers.
But the campaign didn't stop there. The coalition continued to organize and advocate, and in the spring of 2014, the Board of Directors of San Francisco MUNI voted to continue the program for two years and seek permanent funding. FMFY coalition members successfully worked with allies in senior and disability rights organizations to expand free transit programs to include all low- and moderate-income youth, seniors, and people with disabilities. In addition, in August 2021, the Free MUNI for Youth program was expanded to include 18-year olds.