Fuel and transit freebies
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s office has found a novel way to ease the impact of soaring gas prices in Illinois.
50,000 pre-loaded fuel cards worth $150 each
At a press conference Wednesday, Lightfoot announced the City will — via a lottery system — issue 50,000 pre-loaded fuel cards worth $150 each. Together, the discounts will amount to $7.5m. In addition, officials will distribute 100,000 prepaid public transit cards worth $50 each.
Deputy director of communications for the mayor, Ryan Johnson, took to Twitter Thursday to announce the city’s $12.5m transportation cost relief package:
Dubbed ‘Chicago Moves,’ the lottery makes Chicago the first major city in the country to propose such a program, according to an official press release from Lightfoot’s office.
“People have to be able to get to work, school, places of worship, medical offices, grocery stores,” Lightfoot said in the release. “The goal of this program is to help make those moves easier.”
Relief in the cards
To qualify for the lottery, Chicago residents will need a household income at or below 140% of the area median. They can start applying for the cards on April 27, pending approval from City Council, with the scheme capped at one per household.
five consecutive monthly batches
The 50,000 pre-paid gas cards will have a one-year validity upon issuance. Starting May, officials will dish the cards out in five consecutive monthly batches to 10,000 Chicagoans.
Residents eligible for the 100,000 Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) cards must also come in at or below the 140% household income threshold. Of this total, Chicago will distribute 75,000 CTA cards based on geographic data. The remaining 25,000 pre-loaded cards are set for citywide distribution.
Chicago feels the pinch
Lightfoot’s financial support package follows President Joe Biden’s comments on Thursday naming COVID-19 and Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine as the root causes of the record-smashing gas prices.
Illinois has seen some of the steepest hikes in gas prices in the US, outside of California. On Thursday, the average price of a gallon reached $4.843 in the state. According to the Daily Mail, Chicago gas hit a record high of $4.868 per gallon on Monday. In contrast, the American Automobile Association reports that as of Thursday, the US average for a gallon of gas is currently $4.225.
Lightfoot said in Wednesday’s official press release that many Chicagoans “are unable to fill their tank as much as they normally would because their dollars just don’t stretch that far.”