Pay Up, Seniors

Free CTA rides should come to an end

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
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    Travelers might soon have to pay higher rates for ridign the CTA.

    Sorry, seniors. There's no such thing as a free ride. And we need your money back.

    Mayor Daley has this one right. Hey, it happens.

    Rod Blagojevich never should have added free rides to seniors to the 2008 CTA bailout package - not when the CTA was being bailed out because it didn't have enough money. How in the world did that make sense?

    It didn't, and everyone knew it. But instead of going back and fixing the mess they helped cause legislators have been looking at their shoes ever since.

    Seniors weren't clamoring for the free rides back then; it was a political gambit by Blagojevich and a perfect example of his unserious governing nature. It's far from clear that more than a handful of seniors would even be upset paying the usual fares.

    But the spineless Pat Quinn would rather continue the program - which will cost the CTA an estimated $30 million this year and $60 million next year - than do what he must know in his heart is right.

    Even Daley danced around the issue when asked about it on Tuesday, but it was clear where his sympathies lied. He doesn't want to take the blame either.

    Somebody, please take the blame.

    When public officials talk about making tough choices, this isn't one of them. This one is easy.

    And there is at least one legislative leader on board.

    "My mom comes downtown," state House Minority Leader Tom Cross told WBEZ. "Sorry, mom, but she probably ought to pay. They're doing okay. And I don't think, quite frankly, that they'd resent that. And I think that in this economic time, and really for that matter in any time, I don't think it's fair for those that can pay in a situation like that to get a free ride."

    Cross thinks the CTA could make exceptions for seniors in economic need. How very liberal of him!

    Maybe all fares should be based on need.

    But fares shouldn't be free based on age alone.

    Steve Rhodes is the proprietor of The Beachwood Reporter, a Chicago-centric news and culture review.