CHICAGO (CBS) — The CTA once again will provide free rides for the first day of classes in Chicago’s Public Schools, on Aug. 26.

WBBM Newsradio’s Bob Roberts reports the transit agency has a sponsor lined up to pay all costs, possibly for the next four years.

The free rides program will provide rides both to schoolchildren and their parents, courtesy of the Chicago Sun-Times, which is paying more than $300,000 a year to be sponsor, much of it in free advertising to CTA.

The first year, in 2011, 170,000 students and parents rode for free. Last year, under threat of a strike, the number dropped to 110,000.

But CTA President Forrest Claypool said he and Chicago Board of Education officials are convinced that the free rides program helps boost attendance.

Claypool said CTA is hoping some students opt to take mass transit every day.

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