Senate votes to scale back free rides for seniors

By Timothy Magaw
Updated 5/5/2010 8:40 PM

SPRINGFIELD - The Illinois Senate overwhelmingly approved legislation Wednesday that would limit free public transit rides for single seniors making more $41,515.

The measure, which passed the Senate without opposition, now heads to the House for consideration. If approved by the governor, it would roll back across-the-board free rides for seniors that ousted-Gov. Rod Blagojevich instated to justify a suburban sales tax increase to bail out regional mass transit


State Sen. Rickey Hendon, a Chicago Democrat who sponsored the proposal, said he would support free rides for all seniors but said there has been widespread criticism of millionaire seniors who take advantage of the program.

Senate Republican leader Christine Radogno called the legislation a "step in the right direction" but had concerns with a provision that would reinstate the full free-rides program in two years. Hendon, however, said that provision was added so the state could evaluate whether agencies were using the savings wisely.

A senior couple with household income of more than $55,000 would no longer qualify for free rides. Federal law already requires half-price fares for all seniors.