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It’s that time of year where parents are often smiling and some kids are not: it’s “Back to School” time. At the RTA, we’re here to help with the transition from summer break to the school year by participating in “Back to School” events where we share information about promotions that help students get to and from school.

The RTA was proud to participate in the 16th annual “WGN-TV Back-to-School Kids Fair” last Friday at the WGN-TV Studios in Chicago.  We handed out Dump the Pump goodies and information on public transportation options for parents getting ready to take their children back to school.

RTA WGN Back to School
RTA’s Director of Marketing and Communications Susan Massel talks transportation options for students with WGN’s Sarah Jindra

The RTA also marched with other transit agencies in the Bud Billiken Parade on Sunday. The second largest parade in the United States, Bud Billiken’s mission is to promote the betterment of Chicago’s youth, education, and to sound the clarion call for “Back to School.”

RTA’s intern Eric (right) hanging out with CTA President Dorval Carter, Jr. (left) before marching at the Bud Billiken Parade!

If you didn’t see us at these “Back to School” events, here is a quick rundown of what the region’s transit agencies have to offer students and parents on the first day of school as well as the rest of the school year:


  • CTA will again this year provide all students and accompanying adults with free bus and train rides on the first day of Chicago Public Schools’ school year, which is Tuesday, September 5, 2017.
  • CTA this year will continue to offer its low 75-cent fares for elementary and high school students Monday through Friday from 5:30 a.m. – 8:30 p.m. when school is in session.
  • The CTA’s 75-cent student fares are the result of efforts made by Mayor Emanuel and the CTA in 2013 to ensure transit is even more affordable during the school year. Beyond school hours, elementary students ages 7-11 pay reduced fares of $1 on the bus and $1.10 on rail. Passengers who are 12 and older pay the full fare of $2 on bus and $2.25 on rail. For more information about student fares, please visit the CTA’s website.


  • Full time students enrolled in an accredited grade school or high school can purchase a reduced one-way, 10-Ride or Monthly Pass. Student fares are in effect at all times.
  • Until Labor Day, up to three children ages 11 and under will be able to ride free. As always, they can ride free on weekends after Labor Day.
  • For more information about student and discounted fares for children, please visit Metra’s website.
  • Any questions concerning the above may also be directed to Metra Passenger Services at 312-322-6777.


  • High school and younger students are eligible to ride Pace routes at a reduced rate.
  • For frequent riders, the Pace 30-Day Reduced Fare Pass offers students with a high school entitlement applied to their Ventra account unlimited rides all day, every day, regardless of trip purpose and without school-hour restrictions, for 30 days. This pass costs $30.
  • Occasional riders who pay fares with cash or transit value on their Ventra Student Card are eligible to ride for a reduced fare of $.85, but only on school days between 5:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. and only for travel to and from school. This includes summertime travel.
  • Many schools distribute Ventra Student Cards directly to their students. Visit for a list of participating schools.
  • Transfers are available when using transit value on a Ventra Student Card, are $.15.
  • A surcharge of $1.15, which must be paid for using Ventra transit value, will apply when using the 30-Day Reduced Fare Pass on Pace Premium routes.

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