Frustration grows over mass transit

January 16, 2008 4:17:24 PM PST
The deadline to pass a Mass Transit Bill is nearing -- and the frustration is showing as lawmakers on a House Committee pass the governor's plan. "We have worked on this for over a year. I, quite, frankly, am tired of it," said Steve Schlickman, RTA Executive Director.

While most members of the House Mass Transit committee agree that the funding bill must be passed - many Republicans, as well as Democrats are holding their noses - furious with the Governor's "Seniors Ride Free" amendatory veto - which they regard as last minute political grandstanding.

"We should have been dealing with this 2, months ago, 3 months ago, 4 months ago ," said State Rep. Sid Mathias, (R) Buffalo Grove.

"As I sit hear today, it may be difficult for me to support the amendatory veto," said State Rep. John Fritchey, (D) Chicago.

On Thursday, House members will consider another piece of legislation thatwould set limits on which seniors could ride mass transit for free. Income levels - which are already used in other state programs - would determine which senior citizens are eligible to ride for free - as well as those with disabilities.

"I think we have to work with the transit agencies. You have to bring them in so whatever we pass is good public policy," said Greg Harris, (D) Chicago.

The message today from some riders is don't let any adjustments jeopardize the big picture.

"Keep the C.T.A. Running in full force with all of the adjustments to be made later," said one rider.

The legislator who's worked the longest on transit funding says she surely agrees with that. Still there will be an attempt tomorrow to modify the Governor's free ride addition.

"We still have to work through whether there are enough votes. This bill would make this program also available for disabled people. But again, only those that weren't eligible," said State Rep. Julie Hamos, (D) Evanston


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