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updated: 8/19/2011 5:20 AM

What seniors need to know about new transit cards

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Seniors should have either a reduced fare or Circuit Ride Free transit card by now, advised Regional Transportation Authority officials Thursday.

The program allowing everyone 65 and older to ride free on Metra, Pace and the CTA will be phased out Sept. 1 and replaced by a new two-tier system.

Low-income seniors are still eligible to take Pace, Metra or the CTA without paying through the Circuit Ride Free program. All other seniors qualify for Reduced Fare permits, meaning rides are roughly half-price.

In July, the RTA mailed out about 450,000 Reduced Fare or Circuit Ride Free permits.

Seniors who haven't received the cards yet should contact the agency's customer service center at (312) 913-3110.

Seniors earning $27,610 a year or less qualify for a Circuit Ride Free card. This also applies to couples making $36,635 or less or a household of three or more people earning $45,657 or less.

CTA and Metra riders with Reduced Fare cards will need to add money to them before use. To add value to the cards, they must be taken to a vending machine at a CTA station. Or Pace customers can dip the card into the farebox and pay a reduced fare in cash.

Metra customers will need to show the cards when purchasing tickets.

The RTA has a video on the program on its website at