SF approves free Muni for special-education students

CINDY CHEW/ S.F. EXAMINER FILE PHOTOThe free Muni for youth program will be expanded beginning Nov. 1 to include low- and moderate-income 19- to 22-year-old students enrolled in the San Francisco Unified School District’s Special Education Services Program.

CINDY CHEW/ S.F. EXAMINER FILE PHOTOThe free Muni for youth program will be expanded beginning Nov. 1 to include low- and moderate-income 19- to 22-year-old students enrolled in the San Francisco Unified School District’s Special Education Services Program.

The City's free Muni for youth program is expanding in more than one way.

A free pass is also being offered to low- and moderate-income 19- to 22-year-old students enrolled in the San Francisco Unified School District's Special Education Services Program.

This comes after a $6.8 million gift over two years from Google to continue the program to low- and moderate-income 5- to 17-year-olds, which garnered much publicity in February.

The special-education program is not being funded through the Google gift, but rather from the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency's 2015-16 budget.

At an April 15 budget hearing, agency board members, who approved the program Tuesday, asked staff to look into the feasibility of implementing it after hearing from special-education students.

“I can see a couple of them right now in their testimony, and remember thinking it took a lot of courage for them to get up there in a very unfamiliar place,” said SFMTA board or directors Chairman Tom Nolan. “This is a relatively easy thing we can do to really help people's lives, so we're happy to do it.”

Ultimately, the estimate was that for approximately 200 students who qualify for the program, the cost would be $163,000 annually — a “minimal impact on overall revenues,” SFMTA spokesman Paul Rose said.

The special-education program will launch Nov. 1 in conjunction with the expansion of the other free Muni program to 18-year-olds.

Nolan said he next hopes the board will offer free passes to low- and moderate-income seniors and people with disabilities.

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