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"Free rides are a terrible idea that should be dropped" -- senior citizen

I've heard from a few senior citizen transit riders since Thursday's bombshell announcement by the governor.

Billy's comment here yesterday best summarizes their concerns:

I'm a senior, and I wrote to Blag and my "representatives" that the free rides are a terrible idea that should be dropped. Being old doesn't mean being poorer than a lot of other people, and seniors already have reduced fares if they want them.

All this will do is make old folks look like the leeches who made mass transit fail. Blag is trying to transfer his own culpability to a whole class of citizens who didn't ask for, and don't want, this "special" treatment. The idea is insulting and divisive. If the governor really wanted to help seniors he'd have worked to assure fast, safe, reliable transportation for everybody in our region. Instead he and his legislative counterparts have done nothing but destroy it.

If he thinks he's won support from seniors by this pathetic ploy he is sadly mistaken. I don't know any "beneficiary" who is not disgusted by it. I hope, if the legislature doesn't stop it, the courts will strike it down.


I live next door to an assisted living facility and know a lot of my neighbors from there. I was talking to some of them yesterday and they were appalled with the idea that they needed this break. According to them, the discount they receive is appreciated, but they could think of other people (single parents, food stamp recipients, poor people trying to get to work) who could use free transit more than they could.

I really don't know what the big deal is about the free rides for seniors. I drove bus for a city for 20 years where we gave seniors free rides on all fixed route service. After someone turns 65 American's have grown used to giving its citizen's a break on a wide number of things. Why should transit not be in the mix?

Their has been a lot of concern about it being political - do you think!?!?!?!?!

What about the transit funding mess has not been political? This is giving the Governor some cover for raising taxes - if this is what it takes to provide a stable source of operating captial for transit then the seniors are good as gold!

Anyone who has remotely been following this will know that the Governor was the single largest stumbling block during this whole experience. I just wonder if this is Blag's attempt to do a George Ryan move - As the Feds start to move in do something - suspend the death penalty or give senior citizens free rides on transit - to try changing the topics being discussed.

"Alls well that ends well" to quote Blag!

Though the governor was mostly trying to make a crude move to put the ball back in the legislatures court, I think the concept of free mass transit is long overdue. Particularly for reduced fare riders and off-peak rides, it would be much more efficient for the city of Chicago to have free transit.

The other side of the issue is whether only seniors should be getting their fares covered by the state. The other reduced fare riders are left out: students, children under 12 and disabled riders. These riders too should be included as much as senior citizens. The fact that the poor are not already included in the reduced fare program is a major oversight. Medicare card carriers are included, but not medicaid. That's just misguided. Anyone eligible for medicaid or foodstamps should also be eligible for reduced fare transit (or free if we can finally come up with the necessary financing for that)

Ideally, if we're really serious about reducing traffic congestion, and reversing global warming, we should be moving to an all free transit system throughout the United States (with perhaps some peak travel fares to manage the demand).

"Medicare card carriers are included, but not medicaid. That's just misguided. Anyone eligible for medicaid or foodstamps should also be eligible for reduced fare transit (or free if we can finally come up with the necessary financing for that)"

Why? It seems to me that this would just give people a disincentive to climb out of poverty. Why would you want to do that? I would think it makes more sense to encourage people to escape poverty than to discourage it.

MK, do you really think everyone would be encouraged to be poor for the free mass transit? I've never heard something more ridiculous even on the web?

I don't think very many people would make a decision to spend their lives in the lowest economic class in order to receive free public transportation for the rest of their lives. However, you have to consider what message you would be saying by giving this benefit to medicaid and foodstamp recipiants. What it says to them is "we don't expect you to be able to make it on your own, so we are going to help you out by not making you pay for something that everyone else does". It also says "It is just fine and dandy to be poor. We'll give you this goodie because that is what you are. No need to consider how to get out of poverty, never mind that you may be a single mother with several kids". Those are horrible messages to send. And it does get through. How society views the poor has a large impact on what they expect of themselves. And everybody is better off if they expect more of themselves.

What's the big hullaballu about free rides for seniors? I find the discussion disgraceful. After all, our senior citizens have worked their whole lives to create the wealth of our society, paid their taxes for all the social services. I for one, have no problem with it. And in fact many of the seniors I have spoken with are thrilled.

What galls me is no one is talking about the "free ride" that big business and wealthy get, including corporate welfare to the tune of $100s of billions.

No one is talking about the "free ride" for the contractors making billions off the Iraq war. The estimate is the war will end up costing $2 trillion

If a fraction of that money went to pay for transit, or public education, we would have no funding problems. Instead we're upset over roughly (by one estimate) $12 million.

Chicago would not be the only city that would offer free rides. Other cities do it either by area or by demographic.

Recently, there was some discussion about free transit altogether in New York City, as a way to relieve the traffic congestion and cut down on the costly repairs due to the car culture! Frankly, I'm ready for that discussion here too.

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