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Metro says it can't give free rides on east side without extra money

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By Adam Allington, KWMU

St. Louis – The St. Louis transit agency Metro says it cannot offer free rides for senior citizens without some form of subsidy.

Last month Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich pushed the legislature to approve a statewide plan to offer free public transport for all seniors.

Raymond Friem is Senior Vice-President of Transit Operations for Metro. He said offering free service to seniors would cost the agency close to $5 million.

"We're on a shoestring budget as is, but have an idea what it would take to replace that and make it free to seniors if the region or the state is interested in doing so," Friem said.

Friem said Metro already gives seniors half-price fares.

Senior citizens account for 30 percent of Metro bus customers.

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