When disgraced Governor Blagojevich was running the state, he declared that forever and ever [during his administration at least] SENIORS WILL RIDE ON MASS TRANSPORTATION FOR FREE. He might have added, "unless I'm kicked out of office and there's a special election and the next governor caves in to all the people who keep complaining that millions of dollars in revenue have been squandered in the name of old people." But until September 1st, SENIORS RIDE FREE.
Of course, FREE is relative. With government mandates, you get bureaucracy. And bureaucracy is always set up so you have to PAY when an elected official declares that something is FREE.
That means, instead of just using your driver's license to get on a bus or a train FOR FREE, which is easy, you have to go through a PROCESS, which is almost always about hard cash.
This is Illinois. There were jobs to be created out of Blago's magnanimous gesture to the bifocal crowd. The process meant that anyone 65 or older had to go online [more work for a web team] or to a designated location [more offices to open and people to staff the windows] to fill out the paper work [more paper to purchase and printers to buy], bring a driver's license [and if you don't have a driver's license you have to get a state ID, which could mean hiring even more people if there's a run on state IDs] and provide a passport sized photo [somebody's going to make money off that]. Then, after all that, you had to wait five weeks to get your RIDE FREE card in the mail. Five farking weeks.
Funny how you can get a driver's license or a state ID with your picture on it the very SAME DAY, but it takes FIVE WEEKS to get a FREE RIDE card, a process rendered completely unnecessary if you could just use your driver's license. Or go to a driver's license facility and use their set up to create the FREE RIDE cards.
Which brings me to my first predicament. I don't usually use public transportation, but my daughter just moved close to a commuter train station, so I realized that being a SENIOR, I could get to her place and back on the train FOR FREE, and not spend a dime to gas up my car. As long as I got my FREE RIDE card.
Which brings me to my next predicament. The ALL SENIORS RIDE FREE is ENDING on September 1 -- just five weeks from now. On September 1st, unless your income is low enough, SENIORS can only get a 50% discount on the fare.
Meanwhile there are still five weeks left when ALL seniors can supposedly ride for FREE. All except me. Because you need a FREE RIDE card to ride free. But if you don't already have a FREE RIDE card, you can't get one any more. Catch-22. So there's five weeks of free rides that I am eligible for, but I can't use. Because I don't HAVE a FREE RIDE card. All because I can't GET a FREE RIDE card.
Instead of letting all seniors -- me me me me me -- ride free for the last five weeks of the program by simply showing their MEDICARE cards or their driver's licenses, we now have to pay.
A full fare train ticket from my town to my daughter's stop is $8.00 round trip. The senior fare will be $4.00 on September 1st. For the next 37 days that ride is free for anyone over 65. Except ME.
And anyone else who can't get their FREE RIDE card.
Did I mention I can't get my FREE RIDE card?