Here’s an interesting idea,

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom has asked transit officials to study eliminating fares on city buses, streetcars and cable cars — a plan that if enacted would be the largest such experiment in the nation.

“If it could happen anywhere, it could happen in San Francisco,” said Newsom, who said free transit could lure people out of their cars and cut traffic.

If anyone doubted that Newsom was desparate to come up with some sort of “legacy” for his first term in office, this should put that doubt to rest.

Assuming, that is, that this is not just another attempt to govern by press release.

On the lighter side, I find this amusing for its sheer vehemence,

“Gavin Newsom must have taken a leave of his senses to even consider this. Muni is already overloaded with stinky crazies, loud-mouth-behaved louts and other zoological forms of low life. The day it becomes entirely free, it will become a dumpster on wheels, and I, along with the rest of those who currently attempt to use the system, will give up on it entirely,” Cliver said.
I am not sure I understand this argument. My guess would be that if Muni ends up free you’ll see a lot more people jumping on for a few blocks’ ride, which I don’t get how it translates into “a dumpster on wheels.”

I will be interested to see how the Muni study comes out, though.

UPDATE: I think it’s also possible that Newsom, all frustrated with the low fare collections of Muni, may have just said, “Screw it. What if we made it free?” And only then issued a press release.

If I didn’t make it clear, I think free Muni could be a great thing. If it makes the high-traffic, jam-packed lines like the 14 Mission run faster, that would be fantastic.