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Sun-Times Media To Give Free CTA Rides To CPS Students On First Day Of School

This morning at a news conference at the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) headquarters, CTA President Forrest Claypool announced that Chicago Public School (CPS) children will have a way to travel to school on their first day absolutely free. Sun-Times Media is partnering with the CTA to pay the way for CPS children to ride public buses and trains to school on September 4th, the first day of school for most students this year.

In 2011, the CTA premiered its "First Day of School Free Rides" program, which provided an estimated 170,000 rides to students to Chicago school. Sun-Times Media chose to sponsor the program this year... and beyond.

The partnership between Sun-Times Media and the CTA is a three-year deal. That means not only will CPS students ride buses and trains for free on the first day of school this year, but also on the first day of school for the next two years. Sun-Times Media is donating over $150,000 to this multi-year program.

In addition to the financial support, the partnership agreement also includes promotional trade elements for both the CTA and Sun-Times. The CTA will place Sun-Times advertising on unsold bus and train car interiors and on digital spaces. Additionally, 150,000 CTA fare cards will feature the Sun-Times branding. The Sun-Times will give a push to the program in its newspapers and websites, promoting the importance of first-day attendance for CPS elementary and high school students.

In a prepared statement today, CTA President Forrest Claypool said: "The CTA is proud to partner with a local company which is investing in the lives of CTA student customers and their families. Thousands of Chicago Public Schools students rely on public transportation to travel to and from their classes, and providing free rides on the first day starts out the year on the right note."

"The Sun-Times is proud to become the first ever multi-year sponsor of this important program," said Timothy P. Knight, CEO of Wrapports, owner of Sun-Times Media. "Every student deserves to get to school safely and on time as the foundational first step toward a great education."

Michael W. Ferro, Jr., Chairman of Wrapports, LLC, owner of Sun-Times Media, also said in a statement today: "Active engagement in our community is a top priority for the Sun-Times. By providing free rides to CPS students on the first day of school, we hope to encourage strong attendance throughout the year."

Last year's "First Day of School Free Rides" program by the CTA helped contribute to record attendance numbers according to the CPS. Showing his gratitude, CPS CEO Jean-Claude Brizard said today: "We are so appreciative to the CTA and Sun-Times Media for providing free rides to our students and making it easier to get all kids back in the classroom on day one. This year all CPS students will benefit from a full, quality day, and this partnership will help to ensure that all students will receive the education they deserve. Thank you for joining us in our efforts to start the year out strong by getting kids in school on the first day."

The CTA estimates that it gives approximately 25 million student rides each year. CPS students already receive a discounted rate on 85 cents on weekdays during the school year. This discounted fare was extended this year by 30 minutes, to 8:30pm daily, to accommodate the CPS extended school day for some students.

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