Free Chicago Gas Card Plan Narrowly Passes City Council Committee

Cards are expected to be distributed starting in May to waves of 10,000 city residents

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Free gas and public transit cards in Chicago are one step closer to becoming a reality, as a City Council budget committee passed the ordinance on Wednesday in a 15-12 vote.

The City Council is slated to vote on April 27, which is also the day residents can begin applying for the cards, if the proposal is passed.

According to the "Chicago Moves" initiative, the city will issue up to 50,000 pre-loaded gas cards worth $150 each, which will be distributed to residents through a lottery system, Lightfoot has said in a press conference.

The city will also issue 100,000 pre-loaded cards worth $50 each for public transit.

Applications are limited to one per household. To be eligible to receive one, applicants must:

  • Be a resident of Chicago
  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Have a current and valid city sticker with correct mailing information for their vehicle
  • Bring in a household income at or below 100% of the Area Median Income

According to Chicago data, the median income for a family of four is $93,200.

Lightfoot also plans to reserve 75% of gas cards for residents of South and West Side neighborhoods defined as “high-mobility hardship."

Should the plan be approved, cards will be distributed starting in May to waves of 10,000 city residents.

Chicago Businessman Willie Wilson, who has announced he has entered the 2023 race for mayor, recently gave away $1.2 million in gas cards and called Lightfoot's plan a “political stunt.”

As of Tuesday, the national average price for a regular gallon of gas is $4.114, according to AAA. In Illinois, the average price for a regular gallon of gas is slightly higher, at $4.370. That's down a bit from a month ago, when Illinois' average gas gallon cost $4.518.

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