End Of Free Rides For Seniors On CTA?

UPDATED 01/11/10 6:58 a.m.

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WBBM/CBS) — Free rides for seniors on public transit were a gift from since-deposed Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

As WBBM Newsradio 780’s Dave Dahl reports, the free ride might soon be over.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s Dave Dahl reports

Legislation is now on Gov. Pat Quinn’s desk that would do away with automatic free rides for seniors on Chicago Transit Authority lines and other public transit.

Lawmakers have had a hard time undoing the law, but both houses have now passed a bill that would limit free rides only to elderly people who are poor enough to qualify for the Circuit Breaker aid program.

Most recently, the state Senate approved the change 54-2 on Monday.

In a news release, the Regional Transportation Authority said limiting free rides to low-income seniors is a good idea.

“Because this is an especially challenging time financially for our transit system, means-testing would help the RTA manage long-term program costs and contribute to its future financial stability,” RTA Board Chairman John S. Gates Jr. said in the news release.

Blagojevich demanded a law allowing seniors to ride free in exchange for passing a state transit funding bill at the beginning of 2008. Active members of the U.S. Armed Forces and the disabled also ride free on the CTA.

The CTA later said the free rides for seniors program resulted in more $20 million in losses last year.

In the past, Quinn has favored keeping the free service. His office has yet to comment.

(TM and © Copyright 2010 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS Radio and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

  • betty kane

    I have been supporting CTA since 1957-now that the city has given me ONE thing they want to take away. I don’t abuse the system-only use when going to Dr., welfare office or groceries or drugstore. I have had heart surgery, emphasema, diabetic, narcolepsy, arthritis, & I’m 67. I live strictly on Social Security only-have no savings because I raised 3 kids without welfare or child support.

  • creighton

    to all the fat cats in springfield house and senate and gov.
    get off your soap box and leave the free rides for seniors alone.
    better still cut your inflated salaries and budgets

  • Nick

    Where do they come up with the number of times these cards are used? Do they just count the cards issued and multiply by X number of potential rides taken? I was issued this card a few years ago and have only used it for 1 roundtrip ticket to Union Station. So is the RTA really losing as much money as they say they are? The train conductor didn’t make any special note that I was using the senior free ride card. I am a senior and disabled and not abused this free ride card. What type of math does RTA use?

  • James

    I am a senior who is on welfare and am disabled and think its utterly ridiculous that people think its ok that the system is being put on more of a burden because people are taking advantage. I think if we paid a little it would seem like we are contributing but getting something for nothing is abuse.

  • d.beckman

    My husband and I have used the cards once in two years. We are not abusing the privalege by any means…

  • Toma Dixon

    I am also a senior 69 years old. I’ve had my Senior Ride Free Card for a couple of years and I’ve used my card about 2 round trip times. I’m sure that I’m not the only senior NOT abusing the card. TELL THE TRUTH!!



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