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Are free rides getting bumpy?

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A Sun-Times story (found here) by transportation writer Mary Wisniewski points out that legislation to curtail free transit rides for seniors could emerge in Springfield either in the veto session or spring session.

It's about time.

The old saying that there is no such thing as a free lunch doesn't apply in Illinois. Anyone in the state who has logged 780 months on this planet gets to keep the ol' pocketbook squeezed shut when using public transportation.

According to the story, a recent study, conducted by the Urban Transportation Center at the University of Illinois at Chicago for the RTA, found that free rides for seniors and people with disabilities cost the CTA, Pace and Metra between $37.7 million and $116.2 million in lost revenue in 2009. Plus, more than on olne-in-four of those who are riding gratis make more than $55,000 a year.

The study found that 28 percent of those surveyed who use free rides make more than $55,000 a year.

Yes, many seniors are on fixed incomes, and yes, those of us who have been around for 65 years have paid our fair share of taxes. But giving ALL seniors a free pass, regardless of their ability to pay, is costing every taxpayer a boat load of money we can't afford.

Leaders are looking at altering the program to limit it to low-income seniors only. But it begs the question why only low-income seniors should enjoy the free rides. What about students who need to use public transportation? And why is transportation singled out as the free gift. Why not free water? Or how about free garbage pick up, or better yet, how about free ambulance rides?

Seniors who can pay their way to ride public transportation should do so.

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This page contains a single entry by Joe DeRosier published on November 16, 2010 2:00 PM.

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