New transit makes public transportation more affordable for people with disabilities

In early June, the Illinois House and Senate both passed transit bill SB 1920 last week and has 30 days to present it to the Governor for his signature. The Governor is said to favor the bill. Once signed, transit providers have 60 days to implement the components; providers have not yet worked out specifics.

In part, SB 1920 calls for
1. Free rides on fixed route for low income people with disabilities, means tested via Circuit Breaker eligibility

2. The Commissioner of MOPD (Mayor's Office for People with Disabilities) will be an ex-oficio member of the PACE Board, which oversees Chicago and Regional Paratransit.

3. The farebox recovery ratio for paratransit will be capped at its current rate of 10%. The farebox recovery ratio was expected to go to 12% in 2009.

What is the farebox recovery ratio?
Per Illinois statute, a portion of the cost of paratransit rides is to be paid for through the fare. Right now, a paratransit ride costs PACE about $27. They are currently legally obligated to charge $2.70 for a one-way fare (10%), which would have gone up to $3.25 (12%) in January. SB1920 caps the farebox recovery ratio to 10% and allows PACE to calculate their paratransit costs in a manner that would bring the current fare of $2.25 in line with the legislative requirement.

What is Circuit Breaker?
Briefly, Circuit Breaker (Form IL-1363) is a program for Illinois Residents that provides financial assistance with prescription medicines, license plates, and property taxes. Transit providers would use Circuit Breaker eligibiliy to determine who would have free rides on fixed route buses and trains (CTA, PACE & Metra). You do not have to take advantage of any of the other Circuit Breaker programs to be eligible for free rides, but you do have to qualify.

To qualify for Circuit Breaker as a person with a disability,

- You must be 16 years of age or older before Jan. 1, 2008


- Receive disability benefits from ONE of the following:
• Social Security Administration
• Veterans Administration
• Civil Service
• Railroad Retirement


- Have ONE of the following:
• A Class 2 disability card from the Illinois Secretary of State's office,
• A completed Schedule A: Physician's Statement

- You must live in Illinois at the time you file your application
and continue to live in Illinois.

- You must fulfill income requirements, approximately
• $24,800 for a household of one
• $32,900 for a household of two
• $41,000 for a household of three