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Coronavirus In Chicago: City Planning Subsidies For Taxi Industry During COVID-19 Outbreak

CHICAGO (CBS) -- With Chicagoans under a "stay at home" order, and fewer people using taxis, the city is working on plans for subidies for cab drivers and owners, to make sure they can keep operating during the coronavirus outbreak.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot's office said the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection is working on a direct subsidy for the taxi industry, as well as a short-term subsidy for wheelchair-accessible taxis.

"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," the mayor's office said.

The city previously announced it was delaying collection of the ground transportation tax imposed on taxis, ridesharing services, and other public passenger vehicles through April 30. The city also is extending the deadline for debt checks for cabbies and rideshare drivers through April 30, and deferring collection of the accessibility fee for taxis and rideshare vehicles until April 30, and deferring vehicle inspections and license renewals while BACP is closed.

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Meantime, due to the governor's "stay at home" order, disabled people who use paratransit services have been told to limit travel to essential activities only. Meantime, until further notice, Pace is waiving its $3 fee on rides provided through the Taxi Access Program (TAP). That fee is used to purchase one-way rides of up to $30. Riders must still show their TAP card to their cab driver at the start of the trip. If their fare exceeds $30, the rider must still pay the remaining amount.

The city also is working with the Divvy bikeshare program to offer discounted memberships through April 30. Annual memberships will be cut in half, from $99 to $49.50, and single 30-minute rides will be discounted 66% from the regular $3 cost. Divvy also will offer free bikeshare rides to healthcare workers. Through April 30, eligible healthcare workers can sign up through their employer to receive unlimited 45-minute trips on Divvy bikes for 30 days. Companies interested in taking part in the program can email to receive memberships for their employees.


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