SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – The use of millions of dollars in transit funding was debated on Monday in San Francisco, with the sides looking at whether it should go towards free passes for low-income youth or transit maintenance.

Earlier this year, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency approved a 22 month pilot program to provide free transit rides for 40,000 low-income youth in San Francisco. But the approval was contingent on the agency receiving $4 million in funding from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission.

KCBS’ Susan Kennedy Reports:

The MTC declined to fund the pilot program this summer but recently awarded Muni $6.7 million in new funding.

Many advocates have argued that the money should go for the free fare plan, but San Francisco Supervisor Scott Wiener said that with Muni suffering from a 57.2 percent on-time performance rate in August and $420 million in deferred maintenance, the money needs to be spent elsewhere.

“The most important thing we can do for all San Franciscans, and particularly those who are dependent on Muni for their transportation needs, is to provide a reliable system,” said Wiener. “A free Muni pass isn’t worth much if the bus doesn’t come.”

Wiener called for the hearing in front of the Board of Supervisors Government Audit and Oversight Committee on Monday and they decided to vote for his measure, which will put the $6.7 million towards maintenance for the transit system.

The committee did acknowledge that when the item does go to the full Board of Supervisors, there is likely enough support from the board and MTA to fund the free ride pilot program.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)


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