Editor’s note: This is a weekly series of conversations with District 9 Supervisor David Campos addressing issues and events in the Mission. If you have questions for Campos, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mission Local: The Chronicle reported Wednesday that the Metropolitan Transportation Commission may revive a plan for free Muni rides for low-income youth within the next month. The commission voted 8-7 against the plan this summer — what do you think a revised plan will offer?
David Campos: That’s still in the works right now.
The [July] vote was very close. But the thing that became very clear is that we as a region have to do something about this issue right now.
[The commission] is talking about how do we increase ridership in public transportation region-wide? One of the things that has to be looked at is the accessibility and affordability of public transportation to certain communities. In the context of that discussion, this is being revisited.
It’s still not clear what [the new plan] is going to be like. Maybe it will be a regional approach where each jurisdiction has the ability to dictate how to spend money and tackle that issue. Or [the revised plan] will have a different source of funding that it is attached to.
I don’t know that the concern was that people had problems with this [plan], but that if we were going to [fund a free Muni plan] for San Francisco, why don’t we do that for the whole region? For some members of the commission, there was a desire to have a more regional approach and I think that’s what’s happening here.
From our perspective … a pilot does not preclude a regional approach down the road, to try something out in limited jurisdiction for a short period of time. Then you can expand.
Prior to the bus fare more than doubling for youth, we had 21,000 youth that were paying into the system for a Fast Pass. Once the [fare] amount more than doubled, [the number] dropped.
What’s happening as the school system is cutting yellow bus service is that the number of youth actually paying on a Clipper card went down to 10,000 … [so] now it’s less than half.
And so we’re talking about a pretty large number of youth that have not been able to pay into the system. We don’t necessarily believe that youth are not riding Muni. Yes, in some cases youth are not riding. And we’ve heard from youth about having to a pay for Muni or buying lunch that day. But also, some are getting on the bus without paying and in the process they’re risking getting a [$100] ticket.
ML: Education budgets are tight and public schools are looking at a bleak economic future, including spending and hiring freezes, closures and furloughs. What’s your opinion on Prop. 30, which would increase taxes on wealthy city taxpayers and funnel the revenue to public schools?
DC: I support any addition of revenue into the system. And to the extent that there’s a progressive approach to revenue, I’m supportive of that.
The challenge to us [the city Board of Supervisors) is do we have a Plan B in the event that the measure doesn’t pass? What happens if for some reason it goes down, and what does that mean for our public school system?
One of the things that will have to happen is that the city will have to step in because we don’t want to see schools losing [class time] and teachers being laid off.
The two ways the city has helped before is the Rainy Day Fund, in which we have given millions of dollars in the past, including this year to help school districts avoid layoffs or closures. We need to see if we have more money available. And second is through Prop. H [an education enrichment fund].
We need to look and see whether or not there are additional things we can do beyond that.
We will have a serious discussion about that in the next few weeks before election day, to see what our strategy is in the worst-case scenario, that the measure doesn’t pass. A lot of [planning for a potential Plan B] depends on the level of revenue that the city gets.
We need to have a more in-depth discussion as to what revenue is available to the city and what might be made available to schools.
ML: Finally, after a long day’s work, how do you like to unwind?
DC: I don’t drink, but I do enjoy coffee. I go to a lot of coffee places. I love to read, but I’ll be honest, I don’t have much time for that. But I like biographies and nonfiction.