Free CTA rides on the 1st day of school – for the 2nd year in a row

Mayor Emanuel and CTA President Forrest Claypool announced this week that Chicago Public School students and their parents will get free rides on the CTA on Tuesday, September 4, the first day of school for many city schools.

The CCH Law Project advocated for years for free rides to overcome a significant barrier to homeless students – being unable to get to school on the first day. Last year, for the first time, free rides were provided and CPS had its highest first-day attendance, 94.7%, since a new attendance tracking system started in 2007. When a student is able to get to school on the first day, he or she can access important transportation assistance, including free CTA fare cards for homeless students returning to their previous school. 

The free rides will be provided on the first day of school for the next three years through sponsorship by the Sun-Times Media. Kudos to the mayor, Pres. Claypool and the CTA Board, and Sun-Times Media for working together to help start the school year off right for the approximately 400,000 CPS students, including more than 17,000 homeless students.

The mayor also recognized that lack of transportation creates a barrier to school attendance and success in creating a pilot program providing free CTA rides for the first semester at five CPS high schools. This is an encouraging move that warrants expansion to other students in need of transportation.

Chicago Coalition for the Homeless also encourages the city and CTA to implement a revenue-neutral recommendation by the youth-led City Task Force on Homeless Youth: the Youth Connect Pass Initiative.  The youth pass would provide reduced-fare CTA passes to youth who are actively engaged in homeless youth programs who meet eligibility criteria.

– Patricia Nix-Hodes, Associate Law Director