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End Of Free Rides For Seniors On CTA?

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CTA Bus (Photo by Tim Boyle/Getty Images)

CTA Bus (Photo by Tim Boyle/Getty Images)

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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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.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.)

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