Thursday, April 22, 2010

Seniors might keep free rides

By Rachel Wells

Regardless of financial need, all seniors are likely to continue getting free mass transit rides.

A Senate committee on Wednesday voted against HB 4654, which would have repealed a program instituted by then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich that allowed higher income seniors to ride buses and trains for free. Previously, higher income seniors paid half-fare, and only low-income seniors were allowed to ride free of charge.

Chicago Democratic Sen. Rickey Hendon took credit for blocking the measure. “Seniors are facing rising property taxes and have less disposable income, but they still need to get to work, see their doctors and run daily errands,” he said in a news release. “The senior free ride program helps them do that.”

Lemont Republican Sen. Christine Radogno sponsored the measure and said that limiting free rides to just low-income seniors should be an easy decision for lawmakers during a budget crisis.

The House earlier this spring approved the measure, which now remains in the Senate executive committee.

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