Sun-Times: CTA, Sun-Times Media partner on free rides for school kids

By Kara Spak

Now there’s one less thing to worry about on the first day of school.

Chicago Public School students and their parents or guardians can ride the CTA for free on Sept. 4, the first day for most CPS schools.

The free rides were offered for the first time last year, a year that saw record-breaking first-day attendance under a new tracking system started in 2007.

Sun-Times Media, through a partnership with the mass transit agency, is paying the way for the first day this year and the two years that follow, said CTA President Forrest Claypool at a Monday morning news conference. Sun-Times Media is contributing more than $150,000 to the program.

Claypool estimated that 170,000 schoolchildren, from both public and private schools, used the CTA free rides on the first day last year. More than 25 million rides annually are by school children, he said.

“We strongly believe every student deserves to get to school safely and on time,” said Timothy Knight, CEO of Wrapports, LLC, which owns Sun-Times Media, adding that the first day “sets the tone for a productive year.”

Chicago students ride for the reduced rate of 85 cents a trip the rest of the school year, a rate that is valid until 8:30 p.m. to accommodate the longer school day.