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The end of free at RT

Seniors who are 75 or older or will be prior to Sept. 1, should hurry down to the RT service center at 13th and R streets and pick up their free lifetime pass. On Sept. 2, the free pass will be no more.

On Monday, staff will ask the board to approve a Super Senior Discount that will drop the monthly pass from $50, the price riders 62-74 pay, to $40. A good deal, but not free. (<a href="http://www.scribd.com/doc/17598999/090727RTItem16SuperSeniorDiscount">Read the staff report.</a>)

And while we’re on the topic of the end of free things, commuters who park at Watt/I-80, Watt West and the Roseville Road will have to pay $1 a day to park beginning next year if the staff manages to get its pilot program past the board. (<a href="http://www.scribd.com/doc/17599000/090727RTItem17parkingfee">Read the staff proposal.</a>)

Regional Transit General Manger Mike Wiley has been trying to collect parking fees since at least November of 2007. The board has resisted the idea of making people who drive to light rail stations pay to park.

In April, a proposal to start charging at all park-and-ride lots failed to get a majority vote, with the board splitting 50-50. Board member Lauren Hammond made sure she wasn’t there to break the tie, and she since then she has expressed opposition to charging for parking in her end of the county.

So while Hammond joins forces with the board members representing suburban commuters, workers who commute in from Rosevile and beyond will donate $150,000 to help paper over the district’s 2010 budget shortfall.

And this is only the minor items on the agenda for Monday’s board meeting, which will include discussions of how the district will cope with a hole in the budget that has grown from $1 million to more than $2 million in the last month.

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