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Muni Looks At Fare Hikes Amid Projected $22 Million Surplus

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) -- The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency's board of directors held a public hearing on Tuesday afternoon to receive an overview of the city's $1.8 billion two-year budget and consider changes including possible fare hikes.

Agency staff projected that there will be a $22.2 million surplus for 2014-15 and a $15 million surplus for the following fiscal year.

Even with the surplus, the board floated various fare-change possibilities, including bumping up the current adult fare for a Muni ticket from $2 to $2.25.

On the tourist-heavy F-Market and Wharves streetcar line, the cost for a ride could triple to $6 -- the price of a cable car ticket.

The board is also looking into variations on possible free fare programs for qualifying seniors and disabled riders, and is considering expanding the "Free Muni for Youth" pilot program.

That 16-month pilot started last March, and allows low- and moderate-income youths between the ages of 5 and 17 to ride Muni at no cost.

The board is considering expanding the program to youths up to the age of 18, at an additional cost of about $1.14 million a year.

The program as is costs less than was originally anticipated—about $2.9 million annually.

A separate report released Tuesday that was requested by Supervisor David Campos and prepared by the Board of Supervisors' budget and legislative analyst also explored the cost of expanding the free youth Muni program by removing income requirements.

It would cost an additional $2.4 million annually, for example, to expand the program to all youths between 5 and 17 years old regardless of their income, according to the report.

According to Campos' office, an estimated 31,000 youths have enrolled in the "Free Muni for Youth" program in the past year.

The SFMTA board will hold a second public hearing on its budget on March 4. A revised budget proposal will be presented to the board on April 1 before an April 15 vote.

© Copyright 2014 by CBS San Francisco and Bay City News Service. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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