Chicago paratransit riders concerned over Rauner’s proposed budget cuts

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CHICAGO --Under Governor Bruce Rauner's budget plan, the CTA, Metra and Pace would lose almost $130 million in state funding, threatening deep service cuts.

For Vanessa Gonzales, the Pace paratransit bus is her lifeline to work and any semblance of a normal routine.

"It's what I have, it's the only thing I have and it's really important"

Vanessa's struggle began several years back, when severe rheumatoid arthritis and glaucoma stole her vision and her body’s ability to get around.

She, like thousands of others, is now dependent on paratransit buses.

Now, that program faces it's most drastic cut in years under Governor's Rauner's proposed plan to eliminate an $8.5 million annual appropriation for paratransit that comes out of the state's general revenue fund.

That is just one of many cuts to public transit now on the table with a new governor saddled with massive state debt.

Rauner’s proposed game plan includes trimming the regional transportation authority's budget nearly five percent in the year ahead - much of that falling on the CTA.

Leaving public transit with two bad options: pass along more fare increases, or continue to cut back service.

Vanessa say there already is a shortage of seats for para-transit riders - "If you call and there's no room for you--what are you supposed to do?"

The belt tightening even further with Rauner's additional proposed elimination of state reimbursement for all reduced fares.

The CTA issued this response: "Eliminating or reducing the $28 million reimbursement for a free and reduced fare rides for seniors and riders with disabilities would place a further burden on a state-mandated program that is already woefully underfunded."

More than 50,000 people are currently using paratransit to get around at a cost of more than $2800 a year per person - a price tag that cuts deep into an agency that stands to lose millions in funding.


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