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Income Inequality: You Can Be Well-Off and Still Qualify for a Free Muni Pass 

Wednesday, Feb 11 2015
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Come March 1, disabled people and low- to moderate-income elderly San Franciscans will be eligible for free passes onto Muni.

This beneficent act is expected to put a $4.4 million yearly crimp on Muni resources. Rather than pay this out of the city general fund — spreading the burden to everyone — the cost will instead come out of Muni's general operating budget, which is same fund used to pay for maintenance and other necessities.

This places the burden squarely on transit users and transit users alone.

The limit for "gross income" for a 65-year-old Muni patron hoping for a free pass is $68,000 a year. "Gross income," per the IRS, includes pension payments, capital gains distributions, and profits from sales. But a senior fortunate enough to retire and simply live off his or her voluminous savings — and rent payments, dividends, or interest not exceeding $68,000 — is on for free.

This wouldn't be the case for San Franciscans living in subsidized housing, incidentally. Not only do they face scrutiny over income, they must also clear a threshold on net worth.

So, a well-off person with no "income" wouldn't qualify for subsidized housing. But he or she would qualify for subsidized transit.

There are no plans, at the moment, to subsidize people living on the bus.

About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" was a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.

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