Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot and Chicagoland area transit and transportation providers today announced assistance to help alleviate the cost burden of transportation during the State’s recently enacted Stay at Home Order. While the City continues to encourage all who can to stay home during this time, first-responders, healthcare workers and others need to have access to reliable transportation to get to and from work, while residents must maintain access to essential services. These transportation relief measures ranging from passenger credits to discounted usage fees will be in place through the duration of the Order, anticipated to last through April 7.
“During this unprecedented event, it is essential we provide needed transportation relief to the dedicated individuals working on the front-lines of this crisis, as well as ensure our city’s families and residents still have access to essential goods and supplies,” said Mayor Lightfoot. “Despite the challenges we face, Chicago is committed to ensuring reliable and accessible transportation for every neighborhood and community, and we are taking every measure possible to provide the pricing support needed to keep our residents mobile and our city moving forward.”
First, to ease the burden on workers in the taxi and ride-hail industries that are getting Chicagoans to and from critical services, the City previously announced that it will be delaying collection for several fines and fees through April 30, which includes the collection of the Ground Transportation Tax for taxicabs, Transportation Network Providers (TNPs, or ride-hail) and other public passenger vehicles. Furthermore, the City has also already announced an extension of the deadline for debt checks for TNP and taxi drivers until April 30. BACP is also deferring collection of the accessibility fee for taxicabs and TNPs until April 30 and deferring inspections of vehicles and renewals of licenses while BACP offices are closed.
Second, the CTA will continue to operate its regular service schedule so that riders can conduct essential travel. CTA will continue performing rigorous cleaning for buses and trains, which includes both daily cleanings and routine deep cleanings. In order to help residents that for the duration of the Stay at Home Order no longer need their CTA pass, CTA will be offering them a prorated credit for any unused days on active 7- and 30-Day passes. Customers with an active Ventra pass that they are no longer using are eligible to receive a prorated credit for any remaining days, based upon when the pass was last used. Prorated credits will be issued as a “Transit Credit” that will be automatically added to the cardholder’s Ventra account. Transit Credit can be used to purchase a pass at a later date or to pay for CTA travel on a pay-as-you-go basis. To learn more and request a credit, riders can visit: https://www.ventrachicago.com/
“Transit services are critically important to Chicagoans who need to get around for essential services,” said CTA President Dorval R. Carter, Jr. “We are committed to making sure our customers—and the people they serve during this difficult time—continue to have the bus and train service they need.”
Third, BACP is working to further assist the taxi industry with a direct subsidy while a short-term financial subsidy is being considered for Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle operators and taxis that provide rides for the Taxi Access Program (TAP). These measures are being taken to support taxi drivers and operators while ensuring transportation options remain available for those that need them, particularly the most vulnerable that rely on ADA and paratransit services for essential trips.
Fourth, because of the State mandated Stay at Home Order, ADA Paratransit passengers must limit travel to essential activities only. To help alleviate costs for paratransit riders, Pace is waiving its $3 fare collection on its TAP rides starting Monday, March 23. Riders are still required to present a TAP card to the taxicab operator at the beginning of the trip, and if the fare extends beyond $30 the rider will still be responsible for the remaining amount. This policy will be in place until further notice.
Fifth, the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) is working with the City’s bikeshare partner, Divvy, to offer steeply discounted memberships through April 30, 2020. An annual Divvy membership will be cut in half from $99 to $49.50; and “Dollar Divvy” single rides, for 30 minutes, will be offered at a 66% discount from the $3 regular cost. Divvy is also launching a 30-day program to give critical healthcare workers free bikeshare rides; starting today and continuing through April 30, eligible healthcare workers can sign up through their employer to access unlimited 45-minute trips on classic bikes for 30 days. Interested health care companies can email firstname.lastname@example.org to learn how to receive free memberships for employees.
“CDOT is committed to ensuring Chicago’s robust and expansive transportation system works for all residents, particularly as we collectively navigate the uncharted waters of the COVID-19 health crisis,” said CDOT Commissioner Gia Biagi. “While many Chicagoans are working from home, there are still many of us who need to get around the city, and these price reductions are aimed at keeping everyone mobile as they continue commuting to work and seeking essential goods and services.”
Divvy provides essential connections to CTA and Metra, which remain the primary transit systems for commuting. The company is taking additional action to help protect the safety of the community by disinfecting bikes each time they arrive at the depot and doing additional cleanings on high-contact surfaces and vans used for transport.
“Thousands of front-line workers rely on public transit to get to work and many Chicagoans need trains and buses to get to essential businesses. We’re thankful City leaders and CTA workers are keeping the system running,” said Amy Rynell, incoming executive director of the Active Transportation Alliance. “While practicing social distancing, Chicagoans need to walk and bike to get around and lower Divvy rates makes that easier.”
The Chicago Department of Health continues to recommend social distancing for everyone when leaving their homes. These different plans and offerings will ensure that those who need to commute to work or travel within the city during the Stay at Home Order and who are low-income continue to have reliable and accessible transportation at more affordable rates. The City continues to monitor the needs of the transportation system on the ground and formulate policies to assist residents and brave front-line workers to help combat the spread and impacts of COVID-19. To keep up with the latest information on the City’s response to COVID-19 visit chicago.gov/coronavirus.
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