CHICAGO (WBBM) — Three years after the Illinois General Assembly implemented the program that allows free public transit rides for seniors, a Better Government Association investigation found that it’s pretty easy to dupe the system.
LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s Mary Frances Bragiel Reports
Nearly 500,000 seniors are enrolled in the free ride program. The BGA’s investigation discovered that 3,000 participants are listed as deceased and 160 passes are still being used.
Bob Herguth, the BGA’s editor of investigations, said he found out first hand how easy it was to use a senior’s pass to ride for free
“Nobody blinked an eye at CTA and Pace. We boarded buses and we boarded trains using our dads’ passes,” Herguth said. “My dad is over 40 years older than I am.”
Former Gov. Rod Blagojevich came up with the program. Some believe it was created for political reasons. Thus far, it has cost the RTA more than $38 million, and will continue to bleed the agency, Herguth says, until something is done.
“The powers that be need to put some income threshold on here so that it serves the needy,” Herguth said, or establish a “sunset provision” for the program.
The RTA is currently conducting its own audit.