Chicago Sun-Times

Transit funding update--House passes bill

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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.

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First of all, if anyone does not want to take advantage of the opportunity to ride, as a senior citizen, gratis, they can purchase a ticket! That would be analogous to the fact that some people do not use coupons!

Perhaps I should have said firstly it will be a great help to those seniors on a very limited fixed income who take public transportation to do grocery shopping, keep medical appointments, etc.

Also, since I personally have declined invitations to meet in the city for lunch since the budget for that month did not include a ride on Metra, I can relate to that particular other kind of circumstance. I believe that there are those people who can relate to that also.

There will now be seniors who will definitely reconsider their thoughts of going into the city, for whatever reason (shop, dine, sightsee, cultural event, etc.) with this availability.

Have you seen the number of people who take advantage of Chicago's free trolley system during the summer? The choice may be to either stay at home or take the gratis ride and therefore contribute (most probably in another fashion-via purchases-while in the city) to the economy of our state).

Lastly, but not the least in importance, is the fact that by taking public transportation (instead of driving)we are aligning our support to a movement that can only benefit our commitment to the environment.

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This page contains a single entry by Monifa Thomas published on January 17, 2008 3:02 PM.

Should seniors and people with disabilities ride for free? was the previous entry in this blog.

Update -- Funding for transit passes General Assembly is the next entry in this blog.

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