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A Republican sponsored bill aim at eliminating free public transit rides for more than 400,000 seniors in Illinois ran up against opposition from one Black state senator and never made it to the Senate floor for a vote. State Sen. Rickey Hendon, D-5th Dist., said he led the charge Wednesday in an Executive Committee meeting to defeat the bill thus allowing seniors to continue riding for free. Hendon, a former West Side alderman, has long fought for senior rights and said despite the state’s budget woes, seniors should not have to bear the burden.  “The budget crisis shouldn’t be used as an excuse to take away a program we know benefits people,” he said in a written statement. “People are hurting and it’s important that we still provide relief to those who rely on our help.” And even though seniors are riding free Hendon said many of them are taxpayers and ridership is up thanks to seniors. “Seniors are facing rising property taxes and have less disposable income but they still need to get to work, see their doctors and run daily errands. The Senior Ride Free program helps them do that,” he said. The two year-old program would have seen membership reduced nearly 30 percent had House Bill 4654 been successful and passed by the Senate, according to the Regional Transportation Authority. Copyright 2010 Chicago Defender

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