Changing America

Chicago to offer prepaid gas cards to residents amid skyrocketing gas prices

“By subsidizing the cost of gas and transit, we’re helping residents get to work, school, the grocery store, the medical office or wherever they need to get to. Enabling physical mobility directly ties into economic mobility,” said Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot.
A man fills up a gas tank at a Mobil gas station in Chicago, Wednesday, March 18, 2020. Nam Y. Huh/ AP

Story at a glance

  • Chicago will provide a limited number of prepaid gas gift cards to low-income residents.  

  • The average price of a gallon of gas in Chicago is currently $4.22. 

  • Many states are taking steps to address the rising cost of gas, removing gas taxes and public transportation fees. 

Gas prices have skyrocketed across the U.S., jumping above $4 a gallon in most states. Now, local leaders are trying to find ways to help their residents cope with the price hikes, with Chicago announcing it had established a $12.5 million program to provide transportation relief for low-income residents. 

On Thursday, Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced that in order to combat increasing gas prices she would be launching the Chicago Moves program, which will provide 50,000 prepaid gas gift cards worth $150 each along with 100,000 prepaid cards for public transit worth $50 each.

Lightfoot said the $12.5 million program will open for eligible low-income residents to apply beginning April 27. 

In Chicago, the average price of a gallon of gas is $4.87, well over a dollar more than this time last year. 


 
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“By subsidizing the cost of gas and transit, we’re helping residents get to work, school, the grocery store, the medical office or wherever they need to get to. Enabling physical mobility directly ties into economic mobility,” said Lightfoot during a press conference.  

According to the American Automobile Assocation (AAA), the average price of a gallon of gas is $4.22, with some states hitting beyond that to $5.89 a gallon.  

Other states have attempted to help soften the blow of high gas prices by moving to halt their state gas taxes. Connecticut became the most recent state to enact legislation to pause its 25 cent per gallon gas tax beginning April 1 until June 30. The state will also suspend bus fares during this same time period. 

Maryland also suspended its state gas taxes, equating to 36 cents per gallon. It was conducted as a temporary measure and is only expected to last 30 days. 

California, which has the country’s highest gas prices at $5.89 per gallon, proposed a $11 billion package that includes $9 billion in tax refunds to Californians in the form of $400 direct payments per vehicle. It also includes $2 billion in relief for free public transportation for three months and pausing a portion of the sales tax rate on diesel.  

In a statement, Gov. Gavin Newsom blamed Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as the cause of rising gas prices in the U.S. while vowing to provide support to Californians. 

“But this package is also focused on protecting people from volatile gas prices and advancing clean transportation – providing three months of free public transportation, fast-tracking electric vehicle incentives and charging stations, and new funding for local biking and walking projects.” 

The White House is also attempting to intervene to address rising gas prices, announcing on Thursday the largest-ever release of oil from the U.S. strategic reserves. An average of 1 million barrels per day are expected to be released for the next six months, resulting in a total release of about 180 million barrels. 


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