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Free Rides For Seniors To Continue, For Now

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(Photo Credit: Tim Boyle/ Getty Images)

(Photo Credit: Tim Boyle/ Getty Images)

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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.

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