Regional Transportation Authority

RTA Continues to Progress with Changes to Seniors Ride Free Program Print E-mail

The Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) provided updates on changes to the Seniors Ride Free program during its April Board meeting. Key dates and information over the next few months are:

  • June 1: New applications for the Seniors Ride Free program will be means tested with the Department on Aging Circuit Breaker Program.  Those individuals who qualify for the Circuit Breaker Program will receive a new senior “Circuit Ride Free” card.  All others will receive a “Reduced Fare” card.
  • July 1: The RTA will stop processing replacement cards for the current Seniors Ride Free program to avoid sending duplicate cards.
  • August 1: The agency intends to start mailing out new magnetic stripe cards for fixed route service for all seniors currently enrolled in the Seniors Ride Free program. Depending on their eligibility, seniors will receive either a newly named Circuit Ride Free card or a Reduced Fare card.
  • By September 1: The RTA plans to have sent cards to all seniors in their database and all current Seniors Ride Free permits will no longer be accepted on the system’s buses and trains starting on this date. 

By working with the Department on Aging, the RTA will ensure that seniors already qualifying for the Circuit Breaker Program and already holding free ride cards remain able to continue their free rides without interruption. The RTA is also working with the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA), Metra and Pace to administer the program changes. Seniors wishing to ride transit for free that are not currently enrolled in the Department on Aging’s Circuit Breaker program are strongly encouraged to apply as soon as possible. The Circuit Breaker income eligibility amounts range from $27,610 or less for an individual, $36,635 for a two-person household to $45,657 for a household of three or more people.

Seniors that transition to Reduced Fare cards will be able to put money on their card prior to boarding their CTA bus or train, Metra train or Pace bus. Seniors can load and replenish funds on their reduced fare cards at any CTA vending machine. Metra riders must display their Senior Circuit Ride Free or Reduced Fare cards to Metra ticket agents or conductors to pay half fare. Reduced fare is approximately half of the regular fare. Please refer to the CTA (, Metra ( or Pace ( websites for specific fare information.

The RTA has sent correspondence to all seniors who are currently enrolled in the program advising of the enrollment process.  Public hearings will be scheduled to occur in early June throughout the region and extensive outreach and communication efforts will be made to notify seniors about the program changes. 

The Seniors Ride Free program was changed in February after Gov. Pat Quinn signed legislation that amended the RTA Act to allow only low-income seniors to continue riding free on fixed-route services. All other seniors would be required to pay a reduced fare. There are currently 437,000 seniors enrolled in the Seniors Ride Free program since it began in 2008.

To learn more about the Seniors Ride Free program, visit  To enroll in the Illinois Circuit Breaker program, call 800-624-2459 or visit


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