Even with the mass transit funding bailout passed last week, thousands of disabled transit riders who use
Pace paratransit will still be hit with higher fares beginning Feb. 1, when the cost of the ADA monthly
pass doubles to $150.
The increase angers paratransit users who feel their needs weren’t addressed in the $535 million bailout
bill that kept the CTA and Pace from going ahead with drastic “doomsday” service cuts and fare increases.
Adding insult to injury, they say, was Governor Blagojevich’s surprise move to allow seniors to ride mass transit for free.
“The Legislature and the governor, they have ignored paratransit riders and ignored the disabled,” said
55-year-old Will Crosby.
Crosby was one of the organizers of a meeting held Thursday meeting by a pair of disability rights
The two groups, IMPRUVE and Concerned Citizens of Paratransit, want the price of the ADA monthly pass to stay the same, and if it doesn’t, they’re threatening to file federal discrimination claims against Pace and the Regional Transportation Authority.
“We have a civil right to safe, affordable service,” IMPRUVE coordinator Ayo Maat said.
Crosby and others at the meeting noted that many people with disabilities are on fixed incomes and
cannot afford to pay an additional $900 a year to ride paratransit.
The ADA monthly pass allows eligible paratransit riders who live in Chicago to take an unlimited number
of trips for $75 a month. Doubling the price of the pass will bring the annual cost to $1,800.
Officials from Pace and the RTA said the price increase is necessary because Pace has not met the 10
percent farebox recovery ratio for its paratransit service. By state law, each of the transit agencies
has to cover a certain percentage of its operating expenses with passenger fares.
So while the mass transit funding bailout will provide millions of operating dollars for paratransit, Pace is
still obligated to hit its 10 percent target, Pace spokesman Patrick Wilmot said.
“Raising the price of the ADA monthly pass is not related to the budget struggles we were having,” Wilmot said. “It’s a matter of unfortunate timing that the price increase is going into effect so soon after
the funding crisis is resolved, but we’re compelled to comply with the state law.”
It would take action by the General Assembly to waive or rescind the 10 percent farebox requirement in order for Pace to keep the monthly pass at its current price, Pace and the RTA have said.
But so far, legislators have made no move to tackle the issue.
Blagojevich has said that he wants to provide free rides to people with disabilities in the 2009 state budget, yet many disabled riders say that’s too long to wait, if the price of the ADA pass goes up next month.
“Where are people going to come up with that extra $900 in the meantime,” Crosby said.
“And then the transit agencies are going to say, where is that money going to come from,” added paratransit rider Mike Grice, of Hyde Park.
Roughly 29,900 registered paratransit users in Chicago are eligible to use the ADA monthly pass, Pace said. The regular paratransit fare is $2.25 per ride.