Chicago school students get a double bonus Monday - they and accompanying adults will get free rides from 5:30 a.m. till 8:30 p.m., and the students will get new Ventra cards when they get to school.
The free rides are sponsored by the Sun-Times Media Productions for the second straight year to help promote school attendance. The Sun-Times is paying $150,000 to cover the free rides and some advertising.
Once the kids arrive at their schools, they will receive Ventra cards to replace the magnetic-stripe student and reduced-fare cards they used previously to ride to school. The Ventra "smart cards" will eliminate the need to carry more than one transit card or a separate student riding permit. The card will deduct the appropriate fare amount no matter what time it is. They will be ready to use without activation. But they do have to be registered to enjoy the benefits of balance protection for lost of stolen cards.
Students pay a discounted fare of 75 cents on school days between 5:30 am and 8:30 p.m. Beyond school hours, elementary students ages 7-11 pay reduced fares of $1 on bus and $1.10 on rail, and students 12-20 will continue to pay full fare. The CTA provides an estimated 150,000 rides to students each weekday.
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