Free Rides For Seniors To Continue, For Now

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (CBS) – Free rides for seniors will be eliminated on Chicago area public transit lines, but not until next year at the earliest.

Right now, the Regional Transportation Authority, which says it can no longer afford to offer free rides, is looking to change the policy. But this is not possible right away.

This is because two competing bills are making their way through the Illinois General Assembly. One bill would restrict the free ride program to seniors who make a certain amount of money, while the other would expand those income limits.

The RTA hopes a vote could come sometime next spring.

The RTA has said free rides for seniors and the disabled costs the local transit system between $37.7 million and $116.2 million in lost revenue in 2009.

Since-disgraced Gov. Rod Blagojevich demanded a law allowing seniors to ride free in exchange for passing a state transit funding bill at the beginning of 2008. The free ride program was expanded to include the disabled and active duty members of the military in October 2008.

Gov. Pat Quinn has vowed to veto any bill that does away with the free rides. Whether opponents can come up with enough votes to override the veto is uncertain, but House Minority Leader Tom Cross (R-Plainfield) Cross has said he hopes they do.

  • Bill

    Just because you are a senior doesn’t mean you are needy.THIS IS A PURELY POLITICAL MOVE! How about the poor young people who are being discriminated against.If Quinn is serious about trimimng the fat,he should at the very least give it to those seniors that show need!One of my senior neighbors who is wealthy bragged about getting another free benefit simply because he was a senior I told him I was all for it except that I asked him about who was going to pay ?????There was no answer from him.He probably figured he was getting back some of his tax money!He lives in a nice house and owns several vehicles!!!

  • jstcnw

    Riding the RTA is not a treat! People do it because they have to.

  • Concerned and Interested

    Many seniors need the free transit ride — and many seniors now have an opportunity to be mobile because of this including an opportunity to be volunteers. It is a necessity for many. Social Security does not go a long way and many seniors try to exist as best they can on the limited, low income amount they receive even though many have spent years in the work force. However, as is known, there are seniors who can well-afford a discounted rate, and even the full transit rate. At the same time the RTA should not have to carry the burden of such heavy financial losses from the necessity to help seniors when it impacts on the majority of other riders. Perhaps a sliding scale rate from free to half-fare is the best solution unless the RTA can receive additional funding to cover these losses.

  • pr

    Whoever said “what about poor young people” probably doesn’t know about the reduced fare for students. They already get a huge break! Seniors fill the buses and trains when no one else is using them. Let’s give them at least a generous reduced fare. But I’m all for the free rides. Their mere presence on an otherwise empty bus keeps the system going!

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