Discussion related to commuter rail and rapid transit operations in the Chicago area including the South Shore Line, Metra Rail, and Chicago Transit Authority.

Moderators: JamesT4, metraRI

  by Gilbert B Norman
ohioriverrailway wrote:What do you folks in Ill-inoise do with the lottery proceeds??
Lottery winnings go to education, Mr. Ohio River.

However that does not in itself mean any kind of bonanza for education as those winnings simply represent "first dollar' of the education budget. Based upon anticipated lottery winnings the appropriation will be adjusted to reflect such winnings.

It is not a case of an appropriation at a level to meet all State support of local school districts PLUS the Lottery winnings.
  by justalurker66
Without going too far off topic ...

Lottery money being flagged for a particular use is usually followed by other money being taken away from that use and used for something else. It is good marketing to say "support the lottery and support ______" in any given state. A lot more sexy than supporting the state's general fund or being able to temporarily avoid an increase in taxes. And any anti-lottery sediment can be portrayed by pro-lottery people as "you're against _____?" (be that education, roads, transportation or whatever else the designated use is).
  by Pacific 2-3-1
It's not quite the same thing as lottery proceeds, but the LAKE STREET ELEVATED in Chicago was built by a gentleman who controlled most of the gambling and vice in the city. Since it was built to hold the weight of the original steam locomotives (this was before EMU's) and also allow for possible expansion to four tracks, it has held up remarkably well.
  by Gilbert B Norman
It appears that Seniors Ride Free is not long for this world:

http://www.suntimes.com/3318301-417/pro ... ncome.html

Brief passage:

  • SPRINGFIELD — Whether all senior citizens can continue riding for free on the CTA, Pace and Metra is a decision that now rests with Gov. Quinn after Illinois lawmakers moved to roll back the free-rides program launched by impeached ex-Gov. Blagojevich.

    The plan to limit free rides only to low-income senior citizens instead of anyone over the age of 65 flew through the General Assembly during the closing hours of its lame-duck session.

    During his gubernatorial campaign, Quinn shied away from efforts to dump the controversial program Blagojevich started on his own in 2008 that affects a broad and active voting bloc to ride public transit for free, regardless of their income.
True, the Sun Times article notes that Gov. Quinn is non-committal regarding signing the legislation, he has four years remaining in his term and the voters, especially since a goodly number of the present beneficiaries will either be incapacitated or deceased come next election, will forget. However there will be longer memories regarding the 66% increase in the State Individual Income Tax Rate. I can hear the 2014 rhetoric now: "He raised your taxes, yet he continues to let affluent Seniors from the North Shore and DuPage ride into town for FREE".

Finally, it should be noted that Seniors will continue to be offered half rates as any mass transit agency that is recipient of Federal funds through the Federal Transit Administration is required to offer such.
  by Pacific 2-3-1
Can't today's 61-year-olds vote in the next gubernatorial election, Mr. Norman?
  by Gilbert B Norman
Of course they can, Artur Honegger.

But the benefit, if it is to be rescinded at this time, will be long in the history books; somehow "He kept me from having my free METRA rides" hardly resonates to the extent as does "He raised my taxes..."; and to those Seniors, for whom as explained in the following paragraph, the ride means more than the taxes (because they don't lawfully pay any), will still have their free ride.

Again allow me to reiterate that Seniors who meet the needs tests already established under the State's existing "Circuit Breaker" program will continue to have free mass transit available as a benefit through that program. The people like myself (reside in DuPage County and "comfortable plus" in retirement) will rightfully be excluded beyond the half rate concession provided under Federal law. What I'll miss the most will be the convenience; I've forgotten what it is to stand in line at the CUS ticket cage. If a "flash pass" were to be offered to disqualified Seniors for, say, $50 a year, I'd take it in a heartbeat - and would not have any compulsion to take METRA joyrides just to get my money's worth.

Finally, let's take a peek at this non-rail editorial appearing in Yesterday's Times; I knew from the get go, albeit from my perspective as a retired CPA, that Illinois has now simply "caught up" with other states, and has hardly become some kind of 'tax hell":


Brief passage:

  • The action was immediately ridiculed by several governors around the nation who are still pretending that they can cut their way out of the enormous shortfalls they face, without raising taxes. Wisconsin and Indiana predicted a windfall of angry corporations and residents would head their way from Illinois. Even Gov. Chris Christie, the New Jersey Republican, vowed to fly to Illinois to invite businesses there to defect to his state.

    That makes great political theater. But businesses and voters in Illinois, and around the country, should take a closer look at the facts and figures, including their own.

    After 22 years of not raising income taxes, Illinois saw its budget shortfall grow to $15 billion. It had the lowest state credit rating in the nation, and it wasn’t paying its bills to hospitals and schools.

    The Illinois tax rate was low before and remains low for big states. The income tax will rise from a flat 3 percent to a flat 5 percent. That will cause pain at the lower and middle levels of the economic scale, but the state’s millionaires will probably stay put. (The top rate is 10.55 percent in California, 8.97 percent in New Jersey and New York, and 7.75 percent in Wisconsin.)
  by Gilbert B Norman
Finally the curtain call for this absurd program - of interest I only learned that "it's over' by letter from the RTA and after a Google search, it appears that no major news outlet reported this development.

All i can say is that thankfully the program remains in place for those meeting the litmus tests established by the existing Circuit Breaker program and that I "did well enough' in this life not to need this benefit.

What does remain to be established, however, is the effective date requiring Seniors not otherwise eligible, to start paying half fares and whether the pass is expected to be returned.
  by Gilbert B Norman
WBBM 780 reported during the 5AM hour today, that the program modifications will take effect "after Labor Day".

Again; if you're needy (as determined by Circuit Breaker), you'll still ride free; otherwise half.
  by Gilbert B Norman
It now appears that the mechanics are in place to end this absurdity effective Sep 1:

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/loca ... 8675.story

Brief passage:

  • The vast majority of the 440,000 senior citizens who registered to receive free transit rides over the last three years will lose the privilege on Sept. 1, officials said Wednesday.

    That's when current senior free-rides permits on the CTA, Metra and Pace will be deactivated.

    As a result, the revenue from fareboxes is expected to increase by a total of $30 million annually at the three transit agencies, officials estimated.

    Only about 25,000 seniors enrolled in the current free-rides program are expected to still qualify for free transportation on mass transit when the changes implementing a financial means test take effect, according to the Regional Transportation Authority, which administers the program.
Also of interest; Sep 1 is likely when the instigator of this 'giveaway' will find out how much time, if any, he well be doing. Remember, regardless of the current "sequel's" outcome, he was convicted on one count during the "main event'. "Max" for that one count is five years, but WBBM 780, during the 5AM hour today, was reporting eighteen months could well be handed down.

Then it will be time to start the next chapter in this "made for the soaps" serial drama; will Patty 'stand by her man???"
  by Gilbert B Norman
It's over; or otherwise this sorry piece of largess for which many a recipient had no need whatever.

Effective Sep 1, the Seniors Ride Free ID cards were cancelled, replaced either with a "Reduced Fare Permit' or, where need has been established, a "Circuit Breaker Pass". Litmus (need) is established in just the manner I set forth earlier in this admitted monologue of a topic (how many around here are even Seniors?) by means of the existing Illinois program named Circuit Breaker which is administered through the Illinois Department of Aging.

About two weeks ago, I sent the RTA an e-mail asking how to dispose of the cancelled pass; there has been no response to date. I'll just cut it up like an expired credit card and heave it into the recyclable bin.

Half Rates for Seniors and Disabled passengers are a Federal requirement for any mass transit system that is a grantee of funding from the Federal Transit Authority - that means any any of 'em.

But the final chapter will be written during October when Blago learns what "he'll get'. The sentiment seems to be "ten in the pen".
  by Gilbert B Norman
There is a sign posted at Illinois highway construction zones that simply states (and rightly so) "Hit a worker and get 14 years".

How now a new one; "Let all Seniors ride free and get fourteen years".

Quite honestly, I highly doubt if any presiding officer over a transportation authority will use any persuasive powers upon anyone to impose such a rule. be it by enacted legislation or by fiat.

I have no further comments to make regarding this topic.
  by Pacific 2-3-1
It's not that way everywhere. SEPTA will still let anyone from a hobo to rich Uncle Pennybags (if 65 years or older) take a ride on the Reading in Philadelphia for $1, or the trolley, Red Arrow Norristown third rail line and subway for free.
  by ExCon90
Not just SEPTA -- it's statewide. The big difference, however, is that the money received by the transit operator is a function of ridership, not based on a predetermined fixed amount to be divided among transit operators until it runs out -- and deducted from any other funding that might otherwise have been appropriated. My understanding is that Blago's largesse was a classic "unfunded mandate"-- an entirely different thing.