Original Press Release From:
December 20, 2010
Transit Group Says RTA Information on
Free Senior Fair is False and Misleading
Citizens Taking Action, an organization comprised of transit dependent riders, maintains that the alleged number of free senior fare passengers, and claim of misuse by the Regional Transit Authority (RTA), are of questionable accuracy, and possibly inflated. Charles Paidock, Secretary, stated that: “The so-called wide-spread miscue of active cards being issued to now-deceased persons amounts to only 0.75% of the total, is hardly alarming, and easily corrected. If you listen to RTA, one also wonders where all of these senior passengers come from, or where they are all going. If every single senior who signed up for a pass used public transit, it averages out to only 2 rides per week. I have absolutely no idea how the passenger figures RTA puts out can in any way be accurate.”
The group maintains that RTA did a study of free senior fare, and then did it again, and kept the results a secret. They claim that RTA only reveals the parts “they want you to know.”
The group also objected to a statement by Andy Shaw, Executive Director of the Better Government Association, who said that senior citizens “suck revenue from the cash starved transit system,” as a callous and cold appraisal of transit dependent riders.
Mr. Paidock added that “I wouldn't believe anything put out by RTA. Over time the RTA has issued a dozen different figures as to the “cost” of this provision. It actually costs the transit systems nothing, since no new routes or vehicles are added, or additional operators are needed. And the ridership figures issued by RTA as to the percentage of seniors using public transit are so inflated it would mean every one of them would be riding every other day.”
Since the measure was adopted, according to newspaper reports, per an informal study by the group, RTA has claimed on record that free senior rides have been estimated to cost in lost revenue (in millions) $16.9, $20, $ 25.1, $30, $31.4, $35, $36, $36.7, $37, $59.2, $60, $68, $76.3, and $1.4 billion.
When the measure was discussed for passage by the Il Legislature, RTA presented an original figure of cost as only $5 to $10 million.
Mr Paidock asked, in closing, “Does our transit system desperately need to get money from a little old lady who goes out once a week to buy a quart of milk?”
Press Release
Citizens Taking Action for transit dependent riders
For Information:
Charles Paidock, Secretary, (312) 353-0830, 714-7790 cell
December 5, 2011

Budget Shows Charging Seniors Transit Fare Brings in No Money for CTA
According to figures issued by the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) in its proposed budget for 2012, both a modest ridership growth, and the modification of the seniors ride program in September 2011, combined are expected to add only $7 million in 2012 fare box revenue.  The total budget of CTA is $1,240.3 billion.  RTA had maintained that it was going to generate $37 million for the system.*
Charles Paidock, Secretary of Citizens Taking Action, a transit group comprised of transit dependent riders, stated:  "We issued a press release a year ago that RTA was inaccurate and inflating the figures as to the alleged loss of revenue due to offering seniors free fare.  We said all along that the senior riders only brought in between $5 and $10 million, about only 5% of the budget at most, but nobody listened to us.  According to RTA the amount is less than $7 million in a budget of over a billion dollars.
Mr. Paidock added that:  "The cost of free senior fare was used to justify inherent flaws in the funding legislation passed in January of 2008.  It was going to bring in $500 million in additional revenue, but never did.  That's the problem no one wants to address.  Now they are claiming, like Wisconsin, that it's union work rules that cause funding problems.  I can't recollect anyone ever talking about these before, and our members attend every hearing." 
He also stated that "RTA even paid for a study of senior ridership which costs them over $200,000, and we could have told them the results for free.  They refused to give us a copy of it.  Plus the state contributes $28 million in reduced fare reimbursement.  RTA was telling the press, per articles we collected, and state legislators, that it would lose anywhere from $16.9 million to $1.4 billion.  It was a complete fabrication."
Mr. Harry Brooks of the group added that:  "Its been reported to us that seniors are not traveling to subsidized lunch programs because it costs them $1.50 for a meal, plus transit fare, which doesn't make it worthwhile.  Plus if you are a senior, there are no daily or weekly passes for sale, only a monthly one, so they don't buy it.  Considering that there have been cuts in services during off-peak, mid-day periods, and on weekends when seniors are likely to use public transit, such as going to church, you have to say that they are really being treated like unwanted passengers."
Mr. Kevin Peterson maintains that "seniors are either riding less, or not at all.  My mother goes out maybe once a week at most now because it's costly, and harder to get around with cuts in service and schedules.  She got stranded one night trying to get home."
(Page 14, 2012 Summary of Proposed Operating Budgets, RTA)
Statement for the RTA 2012 Budget Hearings
Friday, December 9 - 2:00 p.m.
RTA, Board Room, 175 W. Jackson Blvd., Ste. 1650, Chicago
Attendees will have an opportunity to make public comments.