SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – Google is stepping up to the plate, donating $6.8 million as a pledge to fund San Francisco’s Free Muni for Youth program for the next two years.

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency program started as a pilot in March of 2013, allowing low and moderate income youth living in San Francisco to ride buses and light-rail vehicles at no cost.

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee said he hopes other local tech companies follow the lead of Google, in giving back to the community.

“They wanted this to be the first. And I want to congratulate them and say it’s a great first,” Mayor Lee said.

The tech industry has come under fire recently for driving up rent in San Francisco and driving out low-income residents. Corporate shuttles, including Google buses, have been blockaded by protesters in San Francisco, as they leave with employees for headquarters in Silicon Valley. Those shuttles and buses could soon be using Muni bus stops, after agreeing to pay a small fee to the city.

Jane Martin is with POWER (People Organized to Win Employment Rights), a membership organization made up of low-income African American and Latino workers and tenants in San Francisco. She said this is one way for Google to show its concern.

“We’re eager to continue the dialogue with Google and other companies about their impact on the city and how they can be part of community-driven solutions,” she said.

The hope is that this is just the beginning, and that funding can be accumulated to allow the program to continue beyond the two years.


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