SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — San Francisco Mayor London Breed followed through on her word late last week and vetoed recently-passed legislation that would’ve provided free Muni service to all passengers from July through September.
Ordinance 210453, which the San Francisco Board of Supervisors passed in May, was an attempt to help the San Francisco Municipal Transit Authority and drive Muni use among residents, which plummeted during the COVID-19 pandemic. But the legislation’s $12.5 million price tag was too much for Breed, who promised to veto it even before it passed.READ MORE: San Mateo County Files Lawsuit Alleging McKinsey and Company Helped Push Local Opioid Sales
“While I appreciate the intent to encourage public transit ridership, exacerbating SFMTA’s structural deficit by eliminating fares does not support our long-term transit goals,” Breed wrote in a letter detailing her veto. “SFMTA must focus on restoring service lines and improving reliability, so that San Franciscans can count on Muni to be safe and reliable as our city reopens and our economy recovers from this global pandemic.”
Sponsored by five supervisors including Board President Shamann Walton, the bill passed 7-4 — one vote under the veto-proof threshold. But after Breed announced her veto, Supervisor Dean Preston, who introduced the bill, told the San Francisco Chronicle he planned to take the proposal to the voters.READ MORE: NorCal Wildfire Smoke Prompts Bay Area Air Quality Advisory
“If we have to go to the ballot to win fare relief for riders, we will,” Preston told the Chronicle.
While plenty of low income residents could use the fare relief, Breed also noted in her veto letter that a recent survey found that “when given the choice between prioritizing reliability and service or providing free fares for all, 63% chose focusing on reliability and service while only 28% chose free fares for all.”MORE NEWS: COVID: Sutter Announces New COVID-19 Vaccination Policy for Workforce
“Coming out of this pandemic, I know many more people are struggling. San Francisco already offers deeply discounted passes for seniors and low-income riders, but I am open to conversations to expand that, or improve access to those fare passes, and I welcome policy suggestions that improve equity in our system,” Breed wrote. “In that spirit, Supervisor Myrna Melgar and I have worked together to fund an expansion of Free Muni to all youth in San Francisco, which I know has been a priority of youth advocates for years.”