Free Rides May Finally End for Illinois Seniors

First, Illinois’ senior citizens must realize that Rod Blagojevich was practicing cheap politics when he railroaded free rides for seniors through the legislature. The state of Illinois simply can’t afford this for every senior in the state.

For those of you tuning in from other states, this has meant free rides on the CTA, Metra and Pace. Public transportation.

Generally, it’s easier to get something past the House of any legislature. Senates, state and the big one in D.C., can be more temperamental.

Well, today, the Illinois Senate took a vote:

The days of all Illinois seniors riding free on the CTA, Metra and Pace could be numbered. On Wednesday, the state Senate voted to limit those free rides to seniors who need them most. CBS 2’s Mike Parker reports it’s all about money.

Transit agencies have been complaining that the free ride program is costing them millions in lost revenue every year.

Some estimates have gone as high as $60 million a year in lost fare money. Those losses have affected the CTA, Metra and the RTA. Now the Senate has voted to limit free transit for seniors.

Single people over 65 who make more than about $41,000 a year could no longer ride for free. In a two-person household, the income limit would be about $55,000.

CBS 2 Chicago reminds us, " The free rides were inserted into legislation two years ago by then-governor Rod Blagojevich, who used it as a bargaining chip in a budget battle with the legislature."

It was a ploy — and a bad idea — from the start.

I recall a conversation with one Chicago legislator after Rod pushed this through the legislature. At the time, there was no know way to pay for the free rides. But the bill passed.

Thank you to the Illinois senators for working to plug the gap.

Governor Quinn, sign the bill.