RedEye: Coalition seeks new reduced fare cards for homeless kids

By Tracy Swartz

Chicago Coalition for the Homeless plans to ask the CTA board on Friday to create a reduced fare pass for local homeless youth.

Julie Dworkin, the coalition’s director of policy, said she has been working for years to get the CTA board to approve a $34 30-day unlimited pass for homeless youth to use to go to school or find a job. The 30-day pass currently sells for $86; the price will increase to $100 next week.

Dworkin said she was optimistic that the proposal would win approval when Rich Rodriguez was president of the CTA. The issue was put on the back-burner when Forrest Claypooltook over as president in 2011, Dworkin said.

The CTA told Going Public said it provides reduced fare cards for homeless youth who regularly attend Chicago Public Schools and has no plans to create new fare cards.

CPS students at least 12 years old can pay 85 cents to ride the CTA. That price drops to 75 cents next week when fare changes take effect.

Dworkin said not all homeless youth can attend school regularly.

“[The youth] tend to be a little older and more disconnected from traditional school,” Dworkin said. “They would use [the passes] to get to school, get to work, look for a job, and in certain cases, if they’re not able to work try to get their identification and their benefits together.”

Dworkin is asking the board to consider approving 250 reduced fare passes a month. The board will meet Friday for its monthly meeting at CTA Headquarters, 567 W. Lake St.

One CTA board member told GP the proposal has his initial support.

Kevin Irvine told GP he likes the idea but he’s not sure whether the CTA could afford it. The CTA said it provides $100 million of federally or state-mandated free and discounted rides and the state reimburses the agency for $28 million.

“I support the idea of it. I’d like to see lower fares for everybody but especially people with low income,” Irvine said. “Right now, I kind of want to find out more about what it might look like.”

Discuss this article on RedEye’s Facebook page