Funding for mass transit in Chicago, for those of you who don't live in Chicago, has been a joke. For the past several months, the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) who administers and governs Chicago mass transit, has given the city at least three deadlines that service will be cut, only to have the state government ride in at the last minute with a temporary funding package. The last deadline, scheduled for January 20th, requires a permanent plan to fund mass transit in Chicago - the same city that is trying to obtain the 2016 Olympics (not sure how a city can pull off an Olympics if it can't manage something as basic as mass transit).
Last week, a proposed plan to permanently fund and fix CTA's problems was passed through Illinois government, then sent to Governor Rod Blagojevich to sign and thus enact. Rod, however, has added a last minute spin. He'll sign it, as long as senior citizens are allowed to ride CTA free. This presents a problem: if the government accepts this addition, it takes on added costs to the already ballooned debt owed by CTA, and if the state denies this addition, state congressmen will appear to be the heartless people who wouldn't help out older constituents.
Shame on G-Rod!
Not only does this present an additional problem, but I don't see how making a public program available for free to a blanket group of people is either fair or ethical. Sure, in theory, is a lovely idea to help seniors out. But not all senior citizens are poor. I can see giving them a discount, but not a "free ride".
For that matter, why not extend the offer to disabled persons? Not all disabled persons need the financial help, so the government will then need to determine what constitutes a disability. There are some people who are mentally disabled who cannot work and could use a break such as this, just like there are some who are physically disable who can work and don't need the assistance.
And while we're at it, the lowest paid ethnic group of people in Chicago is the Latino community, so why don't they get the "free ride" addendum as well? Or is that the Polish-American community? Or the African-American community? Maybe we should just say "Anyone who earns under $15,000 a year should ride CTA for free".
The thing is, Rod's plan will probably pass because CTA is too necessary for Chicago (personally my bus route to work and home is one that will be cut). D-Day is next Sunday for Chicago. So either Rod gets his way, or I am walking to work from now on.