Hailed as one of the largest private contributions to city services in San
Francisco's history, Google has agreed to donate $6.8 million to fund the Free Muni for Low Income Youth pilot program for another two years. The donations comes after months of controversy surrounding private shuttle networks—Google's in particular—and their impact on the city.
According to a release from the Mayor's Office, the pilot program provides free monthly Muni passes to 31,000 low-income San Francisco kids between the ages of 5 and 17. The pilot was funded by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission and set to end in June of this year. Under the terms of the deal brokered by Mayor Lee, it will continue until summer 2016.
"Google is demonstrating with real action and real resources that they are a true partner in addressing our City’s affordability crisis for lower and middle-income families," Lee beamed in the release.
Supervisor David Campos, who pushed for an even more comprehensive Free Muni for Youth program, was less effusive, but nonetheless appreciative of the gesture: "This is a good first step," Campos said in the same release. "I’m looking forward to working with the tech industry in the future on other important issues like housing, jobs, and tenant protections. We need further collaboration to support more community driven solutions to the displacement crisis."
One Mission District single mother of two echoed that sentiment to the Chronicle, saying the program is helpful but keeping it funded shouldn't be the only gesture of goodwill from the tech industry. "The sad part is this is just for people who live in San Francisco," Donaji Lona explained. "If you can't live here, how does it help?"
The donation also comes at a time when Muni is enjoying a $22 million budget surplus and considering a fare hike to $2.25 per ride and $6 per ride on historic F-Market streetcars.