S.F. State Students Approve $180 Per Semester Fee for New Transit Pass

A Muni bus stops at 19th and Holloway avenues, near San Francisco State University, on March 17, 2014. (Sergio Portela/Flickr)

San Francisco State University students overwhelmingly approved a referendum last week to add a $180 per semester mandatory campus fee in exchange for unlimited Muni use and a 25 percent BART discount for trips starting or ending at the Daly City stop.

Just under 10 percent of the school's student body voted in this year's Associated Students elections, which ended last Friday. Almost three-quarters of voters supported the new fee to implement a "Gator Pass" in fall 2017.

The fee must still be approved by the Associated Students president and California State University Chancellor Timothy White. Backers of the Gator Pass say they hope for final approval by the end of May.

“If students decide they don’t want the pass, we have the power to stop it,” said Naeemah Charles, Associated Students vice president of external affairs, who says she's worked on creating the transit pass for two and a half years. "It is a student-led fee.”

If the Gator Pass gets a final green light, SFSU will become the latest Bay Area university to provide students with discounted transportation and the first to land cheaper BART fare, although that's limited to just the Daly City station.

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University of San Francisco students held Muni passes since 2000, and UC Berkeley students have had discounted AC Transit since 2006. But neither of those arrangements include BART.

For SFSU, a transit pass without BART would have been a tough sell. The school's 2014 Transportation Survey shows 26 percent of students use BART and nearly half use Muni for at least part of their commute. Though the rest of the students on campus use neither system, they'll still pay the $180 fee.

Freshman Kevin Catalan lives in Daly City's Westlake Center and uses San Mateo County's SamTrans to commute to school, but uses Muni and BART to visit family in Concord.

"I was bummed there wasn't SamTrans, but I take Muni," Catalan said. "It would save me a lot of money."

The referendum approved last week says that the fee is likely to go up in the future:

"It is anticipated that the fee will increase by $5 annually (i.e., Fall 2018: $185; Fall 2019: $190) to account for Muni and BART fare increases, which will be subject to review by a team of SFSU students and administrators who will regularly evaluate the program’s efficacy and determine appropriate cost escalation, if any," the measure said.

The effort also got help from campus administrators, San Francisco Supervisor Scott Wiener, BART District 8 Director Nick Josefowitz and U.S. Rep. Jackie Speier.