Tide is turning in Springfield against free fares for seniors

I’m surprised to report that in an election year, the governor and state legislators are seriously considering ending the free transit rides for seniors and other people.

Gov. Pat Quinn said on a WGN radio show, “I don’t think it’ll completely go away, I think it’s going to be reviewed in light of the CTA’s financial crisis.”

Quinn’s change of heart comes on the heels of the CTA announcing last week that free rides would cost the area’s three transit agencies $1 billion by 2030. And a Republican lawmaker said she would introduce legislation to limit free rides to low-income seniors.

That’s all great and makes a lot of sense. But folks, the CTA still has a $173 million hole to fill in its budget. This would help by about $30 million, so there’s still a ways to go. The CTA still needs to talk to its unions and go hat in hand perhaps for a short-term cash infusion.

Still, I think we can expect to see increased fares and some service hours cut, but maybe not as drastic.

More cops on bus routes. After the fatal beating of a Fenger High School student last month, Mayor Daley last week announced that 148 officers and 78 police vehicles  would be assigned to key CTA routes and bus stops in an effort to quell the violence.

And Jesse Jackson couldn’t resist the urge for publicity photos by riding a bus from Altgelt Gardens housing project to Fenger. If only he would ride every day, that might really make a difference.


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  • The county should subsidize the C.T.A.Surely the candidates in the crowded county board presidential race would like the the huge public transit riders bloc,the union bloc and the seniors bloc to vote for them.Money could be found with an intense scrutiny of the bloated county budget.

  • In reply to JamesReyes:

    The county should first figure out how to cut its own waste and eliminate the 1% sales tax increase.

    Someone should figure out (and that includes the Marxists like Jake saying to protect the bus drivers at any cost, and those, including Pace, pushing SB0941, which is based on the premise that paratransit gets 10% more than its deficit last year) that there is a finite amount that can be extracted from taxes, especially sales taxes, especially in a tight economy. If the "county ... subsidize[s] the C.T.A.," it either doesn't do what it should, which is abolish {expletive deleted} Stroger's tax hike.

    The money has to come out of the taxpayers' pockets, one way or the other. The only way to make things less onerous is to find a way to encourage economic growth. The legislature, and the people on this forum have not made suggestions on how to do that. As I mentioned to Chris, the only way to print money for the CTA is if it becomes the 13th Federal Reserve Bank.

  • In reply to JamesReyes:

    You may remember, a couple of months ago, on how "we" can make suggestions to Rodriguez on cutting the deficit, that I said maybe what is needed is to externalize the costs of such things as free rides for seniors and the CTA fuel hedge. It sure looks like the proposed CTA fare increases do that.

    Although I am still waiting for the theater when the paratransit fare increases (which Pace now says will result in a $5.00 fare in the city if CTA raises the base bus fare to $2.50) are rolled out.

  • Make everyone pay and let kids, seniors, and monthly pass holders ride for a reduced rate; I always had the impression that seniors had free transit shoved down their throats in an election year ploy by G-Rod.

    Let's move on to the latest "CTA sends out layoff notices" (http://www.suntimes.com/news/metro/1833458,cta-layoff-notices-unions-101909.article). I know it's the 'other paper' but scoop is scoop.

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