Provide Low-Income High School Students with Free Transportation to School

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Jake Abrams
Jake Abrams signed this petition

Imagine the positive impact on students, families and schools if public transportation cost was no longer a barrier…

Students in low-income households often struggle to pay for public transportation to get to and from school, resulting in missed days, lower performance and ultimately higher dropout rates. According to the Chicago Public Schools Attendance and Truancy mission: “daily student attendance must be considered by all schools as fundamental to the success of these initiatives and to student academic progress.”

  • 82.6% of 2018-19 CPS high school students qualify for free and reduced lunch, yet are still required to pay out of pocket for transportation to and from school.
  • The average annual cost for rides through the Chicago Transit Authority is $264, however, this does not include transfers and multiple rides.
  • On average, a high school student in Chicago Public Schools travels 3.3 miles to school.

With the cost of transportation being one key factor into chronic absenteeism and truancy, it is time to consider the positive impact free access to public transportation would have on students, families and Chicago Public Schools.

We are calling for support of high school students from low-income households who are eligible for free or reduced lunch to also be eligible for free transportation to/from school. Increased access to transportation translates to higher attendance. Higher attendance translates to:

  • CPS schools eligible for more funding
  • Improved school attendance and academic achievement
  • Reduction in youth violence when more students are in school
  • Families able to reallocate money for other vital necessities

Proven Results:

The 2012 CTA Free Fare Pilot Program which looked at a sample of 500 students from five CPS high schools, asked students and parents to sign a Transportation Incentive Program (TIP) contract which resulted in:

  • 5% increase in attendance rates among TIP students
  • Estimated 9 more instructional days for TIP students
  • Increased Annual Revenue to CPS per TIP student: $999 (before funding formula changed)

There is currently IL State legislation in place to turn this important mission into a reality. Reach out to State legislators to demand their support for IL Senate Bill 2015 and House Bill 1591. 

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