Chicago to Give Away $7.5 Million in Free Gasoline

Eligible residents can apply to receive $150 fuel card
Chicago Moves
Photograph: Shutterstock

CHICAGO — Chicago became the first major city in the country to support residents with transportation relief in the form of free gasoline and public transportation.

Chicago Moves, a transportation assistance program revealed March 31 by Mayor Lori Lightfoot, will provide 50,000 Chicagoans in need with $150 prepaid gas cards, totaling $7.5 million in free gasoline, as well as $5 million earmarked for $50 prepaid cards eligible for use on public transit.

“As inflation steadily rises and the cost of gas continues to soar, our disadvantaged residents are carrying a significant financial burden,” said Lightfoot. “By subsidizing the cost of gas and transit, this program will enable participants to save their resources for other critical expenses. Chicago is a city that moves. People have to be able to get to work, school, places of worship, medical offices, grocery stores. The goal of this program is to help make those moves easier.”

The 50,000 fuel cards will be distributed via lottery system in five successive monthly waves of 10,000 residents beginning in May. They will be valid for one year and can only be spent on gas in Chicago. Applications are limited to one per household and will open on April 27.

Residents are eligible for fuel cards if they are:

  • A resident of Chicago
  • At least 18 years old
  • Have a current and valid city sticker with correct mailing information for their vehicle
  • Have a household income at or below 140% of the Area Median Income for Chicago (available here)

Chicago Moves comes at a time when gas prices are at record highs. According to data from AAA and the Center for Neighborhood Technology, Chicagoans are now paying an average of 4.5% of their annual income at the pump, compared to 3.1% of their annual income one year ago. The cost of fuel in Illinois has increased approximately $1.45 per gallon over the past year.

“Especially for essential workers who do not have the choice to work remotely, this is a way to provide many folks relief as they commute to work each day,” said Anna Valencia, Chicago city clerk. “I look forward to continuing this partnership with Mayor Lightfoot and our city’s leaders to help those experiencing economic hardship breathe a sigh of relief.”

The city of Chicago has partnered with Fifth Third Bank and Onbe, a corporate disbursements fintech, to supply physical prepaid cards and payment processing. The program will have no transaction fees, which will result in all funds going directly to residents.

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