For more than 20 years, Roseland resident Willie Tyler has taken the CTA six days a week to work downtown. For Tyler, Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s prepaid gas and transit card gift will bring him financial relief this summer.
“We need it,” he said amid intermittent rain Thursday afternoon at the CTA Red Line’s 95th station. “It helps us a lot right now. A lot of people don’t have money to get on the bus. It will make a big difference.
But Tyler, who has already applied for the prepaid cards, says the timing of the gift is not the best.
“I know what she’s trying to do,” he said. “She’s trying to get votes. It won’t work because she also affected a lot of people negatively.
Some Chicago residents, as well as various aldermen, are skeptical of Lightfoot’s intentions behind the plan to give the prepaid cards this summer to those who need help the most, but that doesn’t mean residents aren’t upset. the possibility of obtaining relief. .
On Wednesday, the city council narrowly passed Lightfoot’s gift of up to 50,000 prepaid gas cards worth $150 each and 100,000 Chicago Transit Authority prepaid transit cards worth $50. $ each. The giveaway, known as “Chicago Moves”, is described on the the city website as a “financial assistance program providing $12.5 million in transportation relief to Chicago residents in need”, which will be paid for with taxpayer dollars.
Those wishing to obtain a prepaid card must apply for it either in linein person in a Chicago Public Library Location or by mail by sending a letter with a completed application to ATTN: Dept. of Finance: Chicago Moves, 121 N. LaSalle St., 7th Floor, Chicago, IL 60602. Applicants must be Chicago residents, 18 years of age or older, and have a household income at or below the median income of the city area. More information and application forms in English and several other languages can be found online.
Applicants will be notified by email if they have been selected for a card. The cards will be distributed through a lottery system the second week of each month from May to September, depending on the city. Applications must be submitted by the first of the month to be considered for that month’s lottery.
Those who are not selected in a month’s draw will automatically be entered into the following month’s draw. Only one application will be accepted.
Longtime South Side resident Alexis Brown said she used to drive but ‘it was too expensive’ so she now chooses to take the bus to get around and to work . She said she was interested in applying for the CTA card, if the program works as expected.
“I want to see how it works,” Brown said. “At this point, there are a lot of things the mayor has said that we haven’t seen yet, so I’m just waiting to see.”
Brown said the cards would be “very useful” for people who drive to save money on gas and for people who take buses and trains every day and can save money on fares. public transport because “everything is so expensive now”. She said she’s been following Lightfoot’s career since before she was mayor and doesn’t think the gift had anything to do with garnering support for possible re-election.
“Before she was mayor, she always wanted to help people and always make sure neighborhoods got what they needed, so that’s nothing new,” Brown said. “I wouldn’t say it’s a push towards her re-election because before we even knew her on this platform, she did a lot of community work.”
Lightfoot has yet to officially announce his re-election, but Brown is confident Lightfoot will run again.
The announcement of Lightfoot’s gift comes after mayoral candidate Willie Wilson’s three self-funded gas giveaways, worth a total of $2.2 million, which saw drivers camping out at gas stations across the city. City and County of Cook for free fuel. Some locals said Lightfoot’s gift was a way to even the playing field before returning his name to the ring for office.
According to the city, three-quarters of the cards would be prioritized for residents of “community areas facing higher mobility challenges,” while the remaining 25% will be distributed equally to every neighborhood in the city.
Use of gas cards is limited to refueling at city pumps, and transit cards can be used to purchase tickets at Ventra vending machines at CTA stations, Ventra outlets at across town or through the Ventra website and mobile app.
Valerie Avant waited in the driver’s seat of her car while her eldest son got out to get $25 worth of gas at a BP station in Bridgeport, which he said was only nearly half a tank for them . Avant said she should ask for the chance to get a prepaid gas card this summer, but wonders why Lightfoot has decided to help people now when many are struggling to make ends meet throughout the pandemic.
“People needed help getting to work all this time,” Avant said. “Now because someone else is giving free gas, that means she has to give free gas too. It’s like that. It’s election time. Soon there will be someone else who will do the same.