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CTA offering free back-to-school rides to Chicago elementary, high school students

For Chicago students going back to elementary or high school, at least math will be easy on their first day. Students will pay nothing to ride the CTA on Tuesday.

The transit agency is once again providing free rides to elementary and high school students on Tuesday, the first day of school for Chicago Public Schools. Adults accompanying students can also ride for free.

Last year, the CTA provided more than 147,000 free student rides on the first day of school. The program is paid for by the Sun-Tmes, which began sponsoring the free rides program in 2012 in a three-year contract that cost $120,000 the first year with 2.5 percent annual increases.

For the rest of the year, Chicago students are eligible to receive a reduced fare of 75 cents per ride to take the CTA on school days.

The 75-cent student fare is available for full-time students ages 7 to 20 taking the CTA to their public, parochial or private elementary or high school. Eligible riders can take advantage of the fares from 5:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., Monday through Friday when school is in session.

When school is not in session, children ages 7 to 11 can receive a reduced rate of $1.10 on rail rides (down from the regular $2.25 fare) and $1 on buses (down from the regular $2 fare) and younger children ride free.

To take advantage of the free fare on the first day—and the discounted student fares the rest of the school year —students must obtain a Ventra card from their school or fill out a special online student form at Students should not obtain Ventra cards from rail vending machines or retail outlets, according to the CTA.

The CTA said it provides more than 115,000 rides to students on an average weekday and about 25.6 million reduced student rides throughout the academic year.

Copyright © 2015, RedEye
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