Quinn Boots Free Rides

Seniors will no longer get automatic free public transit fare

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The free rides for seniors program introduced by former Gov. Rod Blagojevich has come to an end.

Ahead of this week's budget address, Gov. Pat Quinn announced Tuesday the signing of a bill to drastically scale back free public transit rides for senior citizens.

The measure limits free rides on the Chicago Transit Authority, Metra and Pace, offering them only to seniors who are poor enough to qualify for the Circuit Breaker aid program. A two-person household, for example, with an annual income of less than $36,635 is still elligible for free rides.

Free rides won't end right away and, when they do, seniors who don't qualify for the rides will get half-price fare. According to the law, the Regional Transportation Authority must start the program within six months.

Quinn said that nearly 60 percent of seniors currently riding for free will continue to qualify.

The Senate and Illinois House both passed the legislation earlier this year.

Quinn says the elimination of automatic free rides will save the state an estimated $30 million.

“This reform sets the standard we must meet for state programs by reducing costs while also ensuring transportation services for our most dependent seniors,” Quinn said in a statement. "We’re taking important steps to ensure our state transit programs are fiscally responsible but also accessible to the riders who depend on them.”

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