The City of Evanston later this month will roll out a revised ride program for low-income seniors and disabled residents with a debit card feature that will expand the service beyond taxicabs.

Audrey Thompson, the city’s long-term care ombudsman, told the Human Services Committee Monday night that the latest version of the program was developed through several focus group sessions at senior apartment buildings and community centers.

The new program will offer matching funds from the city for transportation services — of up to $125 a month for residents earning less than $15,000 a year and $75 a month for residents earning $15,001 to $30,000 a year.

Card holders will be able to use the cards to pay full fare for trips on taxis, transportation network provider services like Uber and Lyft, as well as on the CTA, Metra and Amtrak.

Audrey Thompson.

The new program will remove a restriction that limited riders to trips within the boundaries of Evanston.

If a debit card is lost, it can be replaced with no loss of the stored value.

At least for the next year, Thompson says, the city will continue to offer its traditional taxicab coupon program. But the cost of coupons will increase from $4 to $5 and users be limited to between 15 and 25 one-way rides per month.

Thompson says current users of the taxi coupons will be notified of the new program starting March 19. Other seniors with the city’s benefit cards will be alerted to the program starting April 30.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. Amtrak to California
    Can a senior citizen with an income of less than $15,000 a year use this benefit card to travel on Amtrak to California?

    1. California dreamin’

      Hi Dan,

      My understanding is that the answer to that question is yes — people could travel out of state.

      Apparently in the focus group sessions there was desire expressed for people to be able to go visit out-of-state relatives.

      However even a one-way fare might be more than the monthly cap on the debit card — so the rider would have to use cash or another credit card to pay the rest of the fare.

      — Bill

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