CHICAGO — The city will give away $150 gas cards and provide funds for CTA rides to tens of thousands of residents to help them as gas prices stay at record highs.
The move is part of a $12.5 million financial assistance program for the city’s drivers and other travelers, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Thursday. Applications for the offers will open April 27.
The city will give away 50,000 physical gas cards with $150 on them through a lottery system, Lightfoot said. They’ll be usable at any gas station in the city.
To be eligible for the gas cards, people must be a Chicago resident who is at least 18 years old, have a valid city sticker with correct mailing information for their car and have a household income at or below 140 percent of the area median income of Chicago.
The city will also add $50 to Ventra cards or distribute cards with that amount for up to 100,000 people. Of those, 75,000 cards will be given away based on geographic area, with the city aiming to provide them to residents who use the CTA often in low-income areas.
To be eligible for the CTA offer, people must be a resident of Chicago and have a household income at or below 140 percent of the area median income of Chicago.
Lightfoot said officials have also considered relieving the taxes on gas, but they have not done so yet.
“We thought this was a better way to go, to literally put a gas card in the hands of Chicago residents,” she said.
Lightfoot said this plan has been in the works for months, and she wasn’t inspired by Willie Wilson — the millionaire who’s given away $1.2 million in gas to Chicagoans and suburbanites in recent weeks.
Drivers have experienced weeks of wallet-breaking prices at the pump. Russia invading Ukraine has sent prices to record highs, leaving some without a way of affordably traveling for work, school and other needs.
Asked how the city will pay for the $12.5 million giveaway, Lightfoot said the money will “mostly” come from the city’s general corporate fund “but also some [American Rescue Plan]” money. A spokesperson later clarified the funding will come entirely from the corporate fund.
Lightfoot’s relief measure is set to be debated by City Council’s Budget Committee Wednesday and the full City Council is slated to vote on it April 27.
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