Year-Round Muni Passes?

In spring 2019, USF undergraduate students will vote on a referendum that proposes an increase in the mandatory transportation fee every student pays each semester. The resolution, which is being proposed by ASUSF Senate, would ask that the University provide students with Muni passes that are valid year-round, which would increase the fee from $290 per year to $392 per year.

Currently, all undergraduates are required to pay the $145 per semester transportation fee in return for a Muni “class pass” sticker on their OneCard, once per fall and spring. The sticker passes are valid all year, except during summer.

In order for the referendum to be approved, two-thirds of all undergraduate students must turn out to vote. Approval would require a simple majority of the voting population. The approved referendum would then go to the Board of Trustees for their vote. If the Board approved the measure, the resolution would start during the 2020-21 academic year.

The main motive behind the push for a year-round Muni pass is to cut down on the costs of staying in San Francisco over the summer for students, according to ASUSF President Sage Hapke.

Andrea Rocha, assistant director for off-campus student services, said that 63 percent of students live off campus, which equates to roughly 5,500 students. Of those 5,500 students, “most sign 12 month leases as that is a normal occurrence in [San Francisco],” Rocha said.

Although Rocha could not provide statistics on how many of those estimated 5,500 students stay in their rented units over the summer, both Rocha and Hapke noted that an overwhelming majority of off-campus students rely on Muni to get around both during the summer and the school year.

Sophomore Matthew Mejia, who lives off campus, said he likes the idea of the increase as an option, but not a requirement.

“I say option because I do not think that it should be something that all students are required to purchase only because we have to take into account those who go back home or travel over summer,” Mejia said in an email.

Currently, if students stay in the city over the summer, they have to pay $2.50 ($2.75 cash) per one-way ride on Muni or purchase a monthly pass, which costs $78 per month.

It is not confirmed how many stickers would be distributed for a year-round pass, as students complain about stickers peeling easily or getting lost with their OneCard. The current options are a year-round sticker, a biannual sticker, or three stickers for fall, spring and summer, Hapke said.

A year-round Muni pass would essentially operate like a pre-paid Clipper Card. But Public Safety told Hapke the University does not want to give students a Clipper Card or integrate it into the OneCard system if the proposed change is implemented. Public Safety said there are security issues with the Clipper system and the software does not meet USF standards. However, an update to the software system would merit a reconsideration of this type of integration.

If the referendum fails, ASUSF rules require a change in the resolution in order for it to be voted upon again in a future election.

Hapke said that the requirement of a two-thirds voter turnout is intentional and meant to avoid a situation similar to the fate of a referendum for BART passes in 2015. The BART referendum would have increased the transportation fee by $30 a semester, and in return students would get 25 percent off all BART rides to and from Powell St. Station. In that referendum, less than two-thirds of students voted, but it was approved 51-49 percent. Since the price increase was so substantial, but the voter turnout was so low, former ASUSF President Reyna Brown vetoed the referendum in fall 2017. Hapke said that in order to prevent this inauthentic representation, Senate will be pushing for students to go out and vote come spring.

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