The Illinois House on Thursday approved a mass transit funding package that would avert Jan. 20 service cuts and fare hikes at the CTA and Pace.
The measure passed 61-47, despite a last minute change to the bill by Gov. Blagojevich to allow seniors 65 and up to ride the CTA, Metra and Pace for free.
The bill now heads to the Senate for a vote.
If it passes, the funding package would raise approximately $530 million for transit by raising the regional sales tax in Cook and the collar counties by one-quarter of one percent.
It would also prevent the CTA from cutting 81 bus routes and laying off 2,400 employees on Sunday. Fares would have also gone up by as much $1.25. Pace, meanwhile, planned to cut its Metra feeder routes, among others, and raise fares for fixed-route and paratransit service.
House representatives approved the governor’s changes, even as they criticized Blagojevich for what some called a stunt to save face after breaking his campaign promise not to raise taxes.
After Blagojevich certifies the bill, the transit agencies have 60 days to implement the free rides system.