The end of free rides for senior citizens moved closer in Springfield, as details emerged of negotiations among House and Senate leaders from parties, according to a Tribune report.
Free rides for seniors would end March 1, according to the proposal. Then, only seniors 65 and older who qualify for the state’s Circuit Breaker programs would ride free. That means they could earn a maximum of $22,218 per year.
If passed, this plan would mean $25 million more for the CTA. More from the Tribune story:
CTA President Richard Rodriguez said the new plan is “right for our
public and for our customers.” But when asked if the plan would
eliminate the need for fare increases, Rodriguez said only “there’s a
possibility that it would.”
Interesting how a $177 million budget gap could be filled by $25 million. Methinks it’s going to take more than that.
Citizens Taking Action rallies the troops. The transit riders advocacy groups is turning up the heat on the CTA and its proposed budget, promising a protest rally before the CTA board meeting Nov. 12. I’m certainly OK with this group protesting the proposed fare hikes and service cuts. It’s just some of their arguments that don’t add up to me. Such as this excerpt from a press release:
“The CTA, PACE and METRA are all claiming
budget short falls for 2010. During the worst economic crisis in
generations, they are planning to raise fares, cut services, layoff
workers and more. All while trillions of tax-payer dollars are spent on
unpopular corporate handouts and bonuses and wars that benefit a tiny
“When government agencies say that the only way we can
maintain essential services like public transit is for us to pay more
or for workers to get paid less or lose their jobs, they are lying.
They’re also acting in a deliberate and arrogant manner to attack
social services and make working people bear the majority of the
suffering during the economic crisis–all while we directly fund Wall
Street’s luxurious lifestyles.”
I’m not sure how the CTA can be equated to corporations that got federal handouts. I mean, here’s a business that’s actually trying to balance its budget.
The Citizens Taking Action press release goes on:
“The CTA and other transit agencies could
easily find the money to cover the $300 million so-called “budget gap.”
The Chicago economy produces massive sums of wealth. The 2008 GDP in
Illinois was $637 billion, which would make Illinois the 18th richest
country in the world!”
If it was so easy to find $300 million, don’t you think the CTA would have found it already?
Again, I’m very supportive of a riders advocacy group protesting the fare hikes. But please, can ‘t you come up with some more cogent arguments?
UPDATE/Clarification: In subsequent correspondence from Citizens Taking Action, its leader says they were simply forwarding the above press release, which he says was actually issued by Answer Chicago. I regret the error. Citizens Taking Action site is here; Answer Chicago here.