chicago gas prices

Chicago's Free Gas Card Program Could Launch Wednesday. Here's How it Would Work

City Council is expected to vote on the initiative during a 10 a.m. meeting

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Update: City Council on Wednesday narrowly passed the program, with a 26-23 vote. Our original story continues below.

A new free gas and public transit card program is set to ease the rising price at the gas pump for some Chicago residents, but that's only if it passes a City Council vote scheduled for Wednesday morning.

During Wednesday's 10 a.m. City Council meeting, which Mayor Lori Lightfoot will preside over, a vote is slated to take place on whether or not to approve Lightfoot's "Chicago Moves" initiative. The program would distribute, via lottery, 50,000 pre-loaded gas cards worth $150 each and 100,000 pre-loaded public transit cards worth $50 each.

Last week, a City Council budget committee narrowly brought the program one step closer to reality, with a close 15-12 vote.

If the City Council approves the proposal, residents can begin applying for the cards soon after the vote. Cards would begin to be distributed in May.

If Approved, Here's How the Free Gas Card Program Would Work.

The city of Chicago will use a lottery system to distribute 50,000 pre-loaded gas cards worth $150 each and 100,000 pre-loaded public transit cards worth $50 each.

Chicago residents must apply to earn a free gas or public transit card, and applications are limited to one person per household. Only eligible applicants will be entered into the lottery.

To be eligible to receive either card, 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.

What Has to Happen in Order for the Program to be Approved?

Last week, a City Council budget committee narrowly brought the program one step closer to reality, with a close 15-12 vote.

Wednesday at 10 a.m., the full City Council is expected to vote on the program. If the proposal is approved, residents can begin applying for the cards soon after the vote.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot is scheduled to preside over Wednesday's meeting.

Chicago Businessman Willie Wilson, who has announced he has entered the 2023 race for mayor, last week held a third million dollar gas giveaway, which took place at dozens of gas stations across the city and Chicago suburbs. Wilson recently called Lightfoot's plan a “political stunt.”

As Wednesday, the national average price for a regular gallon of gas is $4.134, according to AAA. In Illinois, the average price for a regular gallon of gas is slightly higher, at $4.394. That's down a bit from a month ago, when Illinois' average gas gallon cost $4.494.

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