CTA, others working hard to make sure your kids get back to CPS schools

The Chicago Transit Authority really wants to make sure Chicago Public School students make it school — both on the traditional first day of school Sept. 4 and throughout the year.

On Monday, the CTA announced that it had partnered with the Chicago Sun-Times to offer free bus and rail rides to elementary and high students on the first day of school. The Sun-Times is kicking in more than $150,000 to encourage kids to attend that all-important first day of class. From the news release:

The sponsorship also includes promotional trade elements for both the CTA and Sun-Times, including print and online benefits. The CTA will also provide advertising on unsold bus and rail car interiors, digital spaces and on 150,000 branded fare cards.

Last year, the first year of the First Day of School Free Rides program, CTA provided about 170,000 rides to students at both CPS and private schools. The CTA provides roughly 25 million student rides each year.

Students already can use reduced fare cards at 85 cents a ride and 15 cents for two transfers. And with the lengthening of the CPS school day this year, the CTA extended the discount by half an hour this year, to run from 5:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Finally, Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced Monday that 500 students at five high schools would get free rides under a pilot project. From the news release:

This pilot program grew out of an idea presented to the mayor by the Mikva Challenge Mayoral Youth Commission, a group of 25 Chicago high school and college students who meet with the Mayor on a regular basis to present new ideas and provide the Mayor with a youth-oriented perspective of the challenges facing the city.

The entire cost of the pilot program is being funded by Chicago-area philanthropist Wendy Abrams. This pilot program represents an investment of $50,000, divided evenly across 5 schools, and the University of Chicago’s Network for College Success will evaluate the pilot program’s effectiveness in impacting student attendance, at no cost of the city. Additional funds to extend the pilot will be identified upon review of the first semester’s evaluation.

Five schools have been selected for the CTA Free Fare Card Pilot:

  • Clemente (1147 N. Western Avenue, in West Town)
  • Richards (5009 S. Laflin Street, in New City)
  • Sullivan (6631 N. Bosworth Avenue, in Rogers Park)
  • TEAM Englewood (6201 S. Stewart Avenue, in Englewood)
  • Wells (936 N. Ashland Avenue, in West Town)

Great to see good partnerships united for a good cause: educating children.


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  • I guess it isn't surprising that other news media didn't say it was funded by the S-T.

  • 1. this really wrecks the farebox recovery ratio of several bus routes and given their locations, can "knot up" some key routes with additional riders who may have otherwised walked.
    2. these are "regular" boundary non-selective high schools. Their catchment areas dont really exceed 2 miles on either side. At least students from selective enrollment schools have long distances to travel and can at first glance be somewhat deserving of the perk.
    3. As with the "first day free" promo from last year its not fair to students of parochial, private and some "Schedule E" public schools already in session.

  • In reply to urbanleftbehind:

    I don't think it fouls up the recovery ratio if the S-T pays and would not have otherwise.

    I didn't see what was in it for the S-T, but apparently now they are starting to get some collateral publicity. Not any different than the Miller Lite "penny rides on New Years Eve," which CTA was providing anyway.

    I don't have any knowledge one way or the other about what students benefit.

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