Gov. Quinn signs legislation limiting Seniors Ride Free program: Saves $30 million for cash strapped transit systems
By Chrissy Mancini Nichols
Feb 15, 2011
This post first appeared at metroplanning.org
The new law limits free rides on state transit systems to only seniors who truly need the assistance. A one-person household with an annual income of $27,610 or less will still be eligible for the free fare, as will a two-person household earning less than $36,635, and households of three or more earning $45,657 or less. Almost 60 percent of seniors that currently ride free will continue to do so under the new law.
Seniors who do not meet the income limits will still receive a 50 percent discount, regardless of their wealth.
The Senior Ride Free Program jeopardized the financial health of the entire public transit system in Northeastern Illinois. Rising gas prices and low retail sales have made worse an already strained system in the region, with Fiscal Year 2010 revenues behind projections for Metra, PACE, and the Chicago Transit Authority. Cash strapped transit agencies simply could not afford to support a program that gives free rides away regardless of ability to pay.
MPC sent a letter to Governor Quinn urging him to sign the bill after it passed the General Assembly last month. With his signature, the Governor saved transit agencies more than $30 million annually.