Students Heading Back to School Find Public Transit the Best Option
August 22, 2014
Grab your backpack, lunchbox and head out the door to catch the bus or train—that’s the way the day starts for millions of Chicago commuters of all ages. As the 2014-15 school year gets underway, many young “commuters” will forgo the traditional school bus or ride from mom and dad and take the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA), Metra or Pace bus or train to school each day.
Fifteen year old Asher’s parents, who live in Chicago’s West Lakeview neighborhood, say taking the ‘L’ to Walter Payton College Prep High School at 1034 N. Wells in Chicago is a win-win for the family.
“It’s the best option for Asher. He simply gets on the CTA Brown Line at Addison, switches to the Red Line at Belmont and is then just blocks away from his school,” says his mother. “The train gets him there faster than us driving, and the reduced student fare makes it more affordable for our family.”
Asher can take advantage of the CTA Student Reduced Fare which allows qualifying students to travel on school days between 5:30 a.m. and 8:30 p.m. With a valid student Ventra card, students can ride for 75 cents with the option of two transfers, within two hours, for an additional 15 cents.
Preschooler Morgan from DeKalb and her mom feel the same way. Morgan and her mom ride Metra’s Union Pacific West Line from Lombard to Elburn each day, where Morgan attends St. John’s Lutheran School.
“Metra is the most convenient, relaxing way for me to take Morgan to school each day,” says Morgan’s mom. “It’s a great way for us to spend time together and the Metra staff is wonderful to us each morning. I really can’t imagine commuting any other way.”
Because Morgan is a preschooler, she can enjoy Metra's childrens’ weekday fare, which is free for children 6 and under and half-priced for children ages 7 to 11. Metra offers a discount to full-time students enrolled in an accredited grade school or high school if they present a student ID or Letter of Certification. Discounted tickets are honored daily between 5:30 a.m. and 10:00 p.m., leaving room for students to participate in after-school activities.
Pace operates numerous bus routes providing direct service to elementary, high schools and colleges throughout the region. Many of these routes feature special trips timed to meet the school's start and end times. For example, Pace Route 423 has specially scheduled trips traveling direct to Loyola Academy and Regina Dominican high schools in Wilmette from the CTA Harlem Blue Line Station. Completing this trip using regularly scheduled service would require a transfer and additional walking to the school. These “trippers” accommodate the large number of students who traditionally come to these schools from Chicago’s northwest side and near northwest suburbs. Pace also offers a reduced fare 30-Day Pass to students for $30 that includes unlimited rides on all Pace regular fare routes. The Campus Connection pass, a semester-long pass, is sold to college students and provides unlimited rides on all Pace regular fare routes.
“We have a world-class public transit system that offers students with safe, convenient and affordable transportation,” said Acting RTA Executive Director Leanne Redden. “We see more and more young people relying on transit each day so it only makes sense that students throughout our six-county region would look to the system as the best choice to get to school and back.”