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Free CTA Rides For Seniors

Free CTA Rides For Seniors  

23 members have voted

  1. 1. Should it continue as is, or be changed?

    • Don't change it, all Seniors should ride free
      0
    • Free Rides for those below a certain income, all other Seniors pay half fare
      8
    • Bring it back to the old days... ALL Seniors pay half fare
      13
    • Seniors ride free during non-rush hour periods and on weekends
      0
    • No Free Rides & Seniors must pay full fare at all times
      2


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Then at the very least, things might stop taking backward steps(e.g smaller chance of fare hikes and service cuts then with nothing done to the Free Rides program)

You have now hit the essence of the problem.

CTA has claimed that it loses $40 million a year on free rides. One assumes that this number means that CTA figures that the riders would pay half fare, and, as noted in the discussion about a senior assaulting a driver in a dispute over this, CTA wants to keep track. Obviously, though, there is less demand once a good ceases to be free.

If one believes Donne Trotter that this won't have much effect on his constituents because most qualify for the circuit breaker, then CTA won't recoup much of that supposed $40 million, even if the bill is signed. That got into the debate on the CTA Tattler about how many in the mink coat set ride the 146 or take the bus to the Lyric Opera, instead of ride in a cab or their Lexus.

That gets to the question of what constitutes a reason for subsidizing transit. The original justification was that transit couldn't be run as a business (that certainly being the case in Chicago since about 1926 when the streetcar companies defaulted; maybe back to 1904 and the Lake Street L company). In the 70s, taxpayers were asked to subsidize transit because of congestion, the oil crisis, air pollution, and similar reasons.

Blago at least tried to justify the free rides by saying that "the seniors have to pay the tax increase that I promised I would veto, so they should get something in return," even though it was just pandering. Now, saying that it is based on the circuit breaker, the program just becomes another entitlement. If the purpose were to preserve operating resources, the bill should have said "only as required by Federal law," which would be half fare during nonrush hours. Thus, the debate is simply class warfare, or, as someone on the Tattler said, "this is what the legislature passed, take it or leave it." Doesn't mean I have to like it or herald it as effective.

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You're correct again Busjack. From someone in my house who listens to the news basically all day, the Free Rides bill won't even be looked at by Quinn until March. I tell ya, he is really taking his sweet time on this bill, but he's so eager to put forth that Tax Bill and the Death Penalty Bill. Where are this man's priorities? Two more months of non-stop Free Rides for Seniors from all income levels will continue to hurt the CTA, Metra, and PACE for the first two months of 2011. While no immediate talk of fare increases and more service cuts is imminent at this time, if this bill doesn't move forward, you can bet before 2012 there will be more talk from all three about fare increases and service cuts, if not implimentation of any.

Bottom Line: quit stalling Quinn!!! Sign the bill already!!!

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Two more months of non-stop Free Rides for Seniors from all income levels will continue to hurt the CTA, Metra, and PACE for the first two months of 2011. While no immediate talk of fare increases and more service cuts is imminent at this time, if this bill doesn't move forward, you can bet before 2012 there will be more talk from all three about fare increases and service cuts, if not implimentation of any.

Bottom Line: quit stalling Quinn!!! Sign the bill already!!!

In any event, the bill says that "no longer than 180 days following the effective date of this amendatory act..." so its is going to be at least to July 2011, anyway before CTA gets any of this revenue. I know that the suspense is killing you, but, now the only issue, as far as revenue, is whether it will be July 2011, September 2011, or never.

And, for the inarticulate ... who gave me a -1, is it that you have a problem that I think that your grandmother should only ride the bus outside the rush hour and pay half fare? If so, justify your position.

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Now this is more than fair, or *fare* if you like corny jokes :P for those Seniors who don't qualify for the Free Rides Program, presuming Gov. Quinn does the right thing and signs it sometime before Christmas!!!

Here's a clip from the Kane County Chronicle(full article here)

Last week, the Illinois General Assembly responded to that request, overwhelmingly passing legislation to create an income test for seniors wishing to ride mass transit for free. Under the new law, seniors earning enough to qualify for the states Circuit Breaker assistance program still would qualify for free rides.

Those income limits now stand at $27,610 annual income for an individual, $36,635 for a two-person household and $45,657 for a three-person household.

Individuals belonging to households earning more than those amounts would qualify for a reduced fare of 85 cents one way on the CTA and Pace and half the regular fare on Metra.

What Senior Citizen can't afford 85 cents to ride a CTA or PACE Bus, or the half fare of Metra(which isn't listed, but since Full Fare is $6.50, I'll say it's $3.25?)

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*sigh* The Gov't finally listened!!! :) This is an acceptable program for those Seniors who really need that Free Ride. I am content with this bill. Thank you IL House, Senate, and Gov. Quinn for doing the right thing here!!!

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I am currently deciding between the second and third choices in the poll: Either free rides for seniors below a certain income level, or all seniors pay the reduced fare. The fifth choice in the poll, requiring all seniors pay the full adult fare, is illegal: Federal transportation laws forbid public transportation agencies from charging full fare to all seniors or handicapped persons (although an agency may charge the full adult fare to a senior who fails to display a valid discount card).

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Now, like Busjack said before, which I agree with... "As far as "things finally be made right," they won't even if he (Quinn) signs." this won't restore service to it's original levels and get those 1,100 CTA workers back, but it should at least help prevent any more fare increases and/or service reductions. Now that the CTA has $37 million coming back when this repeal begins.

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Now, like Busjack said before, which I agree with... "As far as "things finally be made right," they won't even if he (Quinn) signs." this won't restore service to it's original levels and get those 1,100 CTA workers back, but it should at least help prevent any more fare increases and/or service reductions. Now that the CTA has $37 million coming back when this repeal begins.

None of this is very likely, because

  • No one knows how many still would be eligible under the circuit breaker test. Trotter had said that this bill doesn't affect too many.
  • Nothing indicates how many who will be required to pay half fare would actually want to now ride the bus.
  • All reports are that Quinn reneged on the deal to freeze fares in consideration of the RTA taking out a $166 million loan and the state would pay the debt service on it. If the state does not come through with the money, it will have to be made up somewhere, plus, don't expect a similar deal for 2012.

One should clearly realize that passing (and now signing) a bill does not mean that CTA has anything at the moment, certainly not $37 million. Similar to the income tax going up 66% doesn't mean the state has the money to pay any of its creditors, including the RTA. I just got the notice that my estimated tax went up 50%, but the first payment of that isn't due until April 18. The state can wait for that.

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I don't know if you guys know about this, but the RTA has outlined how they are implementing the next version of the seniors ride free program. Everyone enlisted in the program is going to have to take a means test. Single seniors who make 27k a year or married 36k will have there free rides stripped and must pay half fare. The means testing starts in June or July (I'm forgetting when exactly) In August they are going to issue out magnetic strips? to people based on their new status. On Sept 1st the program takes effect all former senior cards will no longer be valid.

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I had heard on the news that fares would start being collected from those non means tested Labor Day.

The suggestion was made elsewhere that RTA would then invalidate all existing cards, but it still sounds like the method of reissuing would be costly.

Searching, this CBS 780 story seems to have all the details, including confirming what you said that they would be magnetic stripe cards.

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As to the mechanics of this, Pace says in Moving Forward that the RTA cross matched its Free Ride database with the Circuit Breaker database, and those on both will get the new free passes, and those registered only with the RTA will get the half fare ones. The old cards will be deactivated in September.

At least people don't have to reregister with the RTA.

I suppose though that those who previously didn't sign up because they weren't paying property taxes (possible) or for prescription medicine (not likely) will have to register for the circuit breaker pronto to get the free cards.

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Date for the end(of most) Free Rides is Sept. 1, 2011. Link.

Here's a few comments from various people on the news sites:

From ABC7chicago.com

miguel.rivera4 6/1/11 1:15 PM EDT

This free rides for seniors should not have been done in the first place. Why? The cost will be passed on by the other riders. In a free market system, an idea like this could lead a company to ruin.

pascoajp 6/1/11 3:44 PM EDT

RTA's new policy is clearli in violation of the LAW. The Law which was passed by Illinois House and Senate & signed by Governor Quinn clearly state that Seniors who already have free ride pass can continue to use that until the expiration date on the pass. IF you don'e believe that, read the law, senate bill 3778, sec 3A.15, subsection c

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...

pascoajp 6/1/11 3:44 PM EDT

RTA's new policy is clearli in violation of the LAW....

Proves that one should not get their legal advice from a newspaper comment board, in any event.

At least I give you the source: Metropolitan Transit Authority Act, section 51 subsection b:

Notwithstanding any law to the contrary, no later than 180 days following the effective date of this amendatory Act of the 96th General Assembly, any fixed route public transportation services provided by, or under grant or purchase of service contracts of, the Board shall be provided without charge to senior citizens aged 65 and older who meet the income eligibility limitation set forth in subsection (a‑5) of Section 4 of the Senior Citizens and Disabled Persons Property Tax Relief and Pharmaceutical Assistance Act, under such conditions as shall be prescribed by the Board. The Department on Aging shall furnish all information reasonably necessary to determine eligibility, including updated lists of individuals who are eligible for services without charge under this Section. Nothing in this Section shall relieve the Board from providing reduced fares as may be required by federal law.

So, sw, if you think that pascoajp is in any position to figure this one out, let us know. Otherwise, it was not worth dignifying such a comment.

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I just put the comments up for those on the chicagobus site to see, I am no way taking sides on the opinions of people for or against the repeal of most Free Rides on September 1st.

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I just put the comments up for those on the chicagobus site to see, I am no way taking sides on the opinions of people for or against the repeal of most Free Rides on September 1st.

A comment that " is clearli in violation of the LAW" is no more opinion that if I would have said that somehow Jewel was selling Loblaw's "President's Choice" label, but appears no longer to do so.

However, I guess that any crackpot, including pascoajp can make statements of fact about the law. Some people here know about what I mean.

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A comment that " is clearli in violation of the LAW" is no more opinion that if I would have said that somehow Jewel was selling Loblaw's "President's Choice" label, but appears no longer to do so.

However, I guess that any crackpot, including pascoajp can make statements of fact about the law. Some people here know about what I mean.

I can see your point about people making statements regarding legal fact and interpretation. As for Jewel previously selling President's Choice labeled items, apparently the Supervalu folks did not wish to continue the deal with Loblaw after gobbling up Albertson's and thus gaining ownership of Jewel Foods chain.

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Just watched RTA and CTA videos about the end of free rides and return to reduced fares for seniors. Not sure how many seniors (or anyone) will make it through the 11 minute RTA powerpoint video. Interestingly, the CTA got the RTA spokeswoman to appear in their video, but no real people appear in the RTA video.

CTA video - http://youtu.be/2VPulzwiG2g

http://www.youtube.c...h?v=2VPulzwiG2g

RTA video - http://www.youtube.c...h?v=oY-LWiHsTqM

http://www.youtube.c...h?v=oY-LWiHsTqM

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Not sure how many seniors (or anyone) will make it through the 11 minute RTA powerpoint video....

Since the new cards are being sent out automatically (if you are on the circuit breaker, you get the free one, otherwise half-fare) the only things that would take any training are (1) the old card won't work, and (2) you have to stick the new card in the slot instead of flashing it in front of the round reader. An 11 minute Powerpoint isn't going to make much difference--not to mention that this is not directed to the Powerpoint generation (for the most part).

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I see the RTA is at it again with amateur hour YouTube videos.

From The Trib:

The RTA has hired consultants to produce videos posted on You Tube demonstrating how the new process will work. The consultants are also conducting Webinars – both of which moves are unlikely to reach many seniors.

I'd love to know how much money the RTA wasted on these bozo "consultants."

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I see the RTA is at it again with amateur hour YouTube videos.

From The Trib:

I'd love to know how much money the RTA wasted on these bozo "consultants."

This is the same RTA that spent a bunch of money to create the buggy and useless "GoRoo" trip planner when Google Transit was offering essentially the same service (which CTA and Metra had already adopted) for free.

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I am confused about the Seniors' frustration about the reduced fare card and how to add money and use it. These cards were around pre-Smart Card/Chicago Card-Era. Nothing has changed with that, and if you were over 65 before the new technology was introduced, these fare cards shouldn't be confusing.

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I am confused about the Seniors' frustration about the reduced fare card and how to add money and use it. These cards were around pre-Smart Card/Chicago Card-Era. Nothing has changed with that, and if you were over 65 before the new technology was introduced, these fare cards shouldn't be confusing.

After 3 years of not adding to the touch cards, and being again confronted with having to charge the mag stripe cards, it may make a difference, although as several of us pointed out, Powerpoints and YouTubes aren't going to be viewed by most of the target audience.

FoxChicago had that the CTA was ending free rides, and didn't mention RTA, Pace, or Metra, nor show their 1989 Pace footage. Probably more seniors were watching that.

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I see the RTA is at it again with amateur hour YouTube videos.

From The Trib:

I'd love to know how much money the RTA wasted on these bozo "consultants."

A friend at a department of Aging senior center says there has been been a major shift in how the free rides program information is being coordinated.

Apparently, from the time the new law passed last winter, the RTA insisted on taking control of how to end the free rides program and transition to the new program. Since the law affects all three service agencies, and the RTA had the money, they coordinated how to inform seniors and get the new cards out. Seems to makes sense, but one problem was the RTA didn't seek input from the service agencies.

The CTA expressed concern that there wasn't a more coordinated outreach plan ( think RTA webinars and video) by the RTA, and their (CTA) reps began reaching out directly to senior centers. They also put a new automated announcement on the buses about the end of the free rides program and created signage for buses, trains, and stations.

According to my friend, things came to a head when the CTA found out that the RTA was sending out the new cards without any information about HOW to use the new cards. CTA jumped in and printed brochures explaining how to use the cards, bought ad time on radio explaining the program, had their own press event to get the attention of seniors and media, and scheduled several days where staff will target stations and buses which have high senior usage. They are passing the brochures out to anyone who will have contacts with seniors: senior centers, elected officials, church groups, and putting them in all stations.

The problem is that this is targeting only CTA customers. Metra and Pace customers are still left underinformed by the RTA. They are probably going to have to rush and spend money to get info out to their senior customers.

This is gonna be a mess.

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Saw a senior on a bus today trying relentlessly to tap his new magnetic senior card against the Chicago Card reader. Apparently he didn't catch the YouTube video.

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