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Google Gives Protestors 6.8 Million Reasons to Leave Its Buses Alone

Actually, $6.8 million for free Muni rides for low-income youth. Basically the same thing. 

The kids are thrilled.

Mayor Ed Lee just announced that Google plans to donate $6.8 million to the city in order to fund free Muni passes for low- and middle-income youth. It's a deal that has been rumored in City Hall circles for some time, and it looks like a big win both for the Mayor and for the tech firm. Not to mention the kids who'll get to keep hopping aboard mass transit for free.

In recent years, the Municipal Transportation Agency pilot program has allowed about 40,000 kids aged 5-17 to ride Muni gratis. But at a price tag of $3 million a year, the MTA was set to decide whether the program should continue into the future. Google's donation is enough to fund the program for two years. 

At a time when both the mayor and Big Tech have been under heavy fire regarding displacement in the city, this move is a victory for both parties. But people aren't singing their praises just yet. Long-time supporter of the free Muni for youth program, Supervisor David Campos told the Chronicle that while the gift "is appreciated, there are still more discussions to be had around the future of free Muni for low- and middle-income youths and other issues around affordability." Adding, "Because it's a two-year gift, what happens after two years?"

This donation also comes on the heels of tech companies' recent shuttle permit agreement, which forces private buses to pay $1 per day per stop in the city. Last week, a group of political activists and local tenants filed an appeal of the permit program. Will this move appease them? What do you think?

 

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