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Getting back in the Loop: Workers returning downtown in Phase 3 have options

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Posted  5 months ago

Press contact: Jessica Cabe | PR and Communications Manager, Chicago Loop Alliance jessica@chicagoloopalliance.com | 815-713-8909

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SOCIAL: #inTheLoopChi    #BackInTheLoop
@loopchicago     @ChicagoLoopAlliance    @ChiLoopAlliance     @Chicago-Loop-Alliance

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE | May 26, 2020

CHICAGO— In Phase 3 of Mayor Lightfoot’s Protect Chicago plan (which she anticipates will begin in early June), workers can return to offices, and restrictions on other businesses will loosen. Anyone who plans to be back in the Loop during this time will need a clean, safe and healthy way to get there.

“Since Gov. Pritzker’s stay at home order, the Loop has consistently seen about an 80 percent drop in pedestrian activity compared to last year,” said Michael Edwards, President and CEO of Chicago Loop Alliance. “We expect activity to gradually increase over the next few weeks and months. For anyone who plans to return to work during Phase 3, we want to share what has changed about their commute so they’ll feel as comfortable as possible getting back in the Loop. Once they’re here, they’ll see the Chicago Loop Ambassadors cleaning and disinfecting the street-level touch points; they’ll see some of their favorite restaurants open for takeout, delivery and possibly outdoor dining; and iconic State Street retailers, now only open for curbside pick-up, will be allowed to open at limited capacities. And while we know that still doesn’t represent a return to normal, we hope all of that heartens folks who haven’t seen the Loop in a while.”

All the same transportation options exist now as before—public transportation, cycling, driving, ride hail and walking—but each has seen some changes over the past two months. Here’s what returning workers can expect:

Public Transportation

The CTA is currently providing as much service as possible and encouraging people to limit their travel on the bus and rail system to essential trips only (e.g. medical appointments, trips to the pharmacy or to essential work locations, etc.). For those who do use the CTA for essential trips, the agency has shared detailed information about their cleaning efforts and has compiled tips for riders, including to wear a face covering per state order, wash your hands before and after traveling, limit touching surfaces, and maintain 6 feet of space between yourself and others at all times. In response to COVID-19, bus riders are to board buses through the back door to protect drivers.

For commuters normally reliant on Metra, all 11 lines are still in service, but are using alternative schedules. Customers should check schedules online before they travel. Metra is prepared to add cars to trains and add trains to the schedules as ridership grows in order to allow for responsible social distancing on trains as much as possible and as long as possible. New all-day passes for $10 will be available beginning June 1. Metra has spent recent weeks deep cleaning all cars and has developed a new cleaning, sanitizing and disinfecting regimen to keep customers as safe as possible on a daily basis. Metra asks all customers to wear a face covering, maintain distance from others on the train, and remain seated rather than crowd aisles or vestibules as your stop approaches. Metra will allow plenty of time to safely exit the train when it reaches your destination.

Cycling and other light individual transport

If you decide to bike to work, consider using Divvy. Divvy associates (like Chicago Loop Alliance’s May Loop Employee of the Month) frequently disinfect high-contact surfaces on bikes and wear gloves when handling anything at the storage depot or in transport vans. Divvy also recommends that associates wear a cloth face covering, and are distributing those wherever possible. It is recommended that riders follow CDC guidance and wear a face covering in public.

If you prefer to ride a personal bike, e-scooter, hoverboard, or other “light individual transport” vehicle operated in a bike lane, check out Active Transportation Alliance’s Everyday Biking Guide for tips and resources. And view their shareable infographics about how to walk and bike safely during COVID-19, which was co-developed with the Cook County Department of Public Health. And remember, the Lakefront Trail and the 606 are still closed.

Drive

If you drive to the Loop, consider using iParkit. iParkit has the most convenient locations at the best rates. First-time Express parkers get 20 percent off any iParkit location the first five times you park with Express. You don’t have to worry about tickets or reservations; just download the iParkit app, create an account, scan in and out of the garage, and your payment is automatically processed upon exit with a receipt emailed to you. This touchless parking option is not just convenient, but also clean and safe.

Another parking option is Millennium Garages, which are open 24/7 and are offering special pricing to essential workers. Simply drive in, take a ticket, and pay on exit. Special rates last through June 30, with possible extensions. You can also buy online in advance and save up to 50 percent off drive-up rates. Other options are hourly and daily drive-up rates, monthly parking, and multi-day rates.

Ride hail

Hailing a ride from a taxi or other service like Uber or Lyft will likely be a little different than pre-COVID. For instance, Lyft recently introduced its Health Safety Program with new policies, commitments and products designed to address community needs during this important time for public health. The primary feature of the Health Safety Program is the new Personal Health Certification, which will require all riders and drivers to wear face masks when using Lyft. Before using Lyft, every rider and driver will be required to self-certify that they will wear face masks throughout the ride, are symptom-free and will follow CDC and local health official guidelines related to COVID-19. Specifically, riders and drivers will confirm that:

  • They will wear a face mask or covering
  • They will not ride or drive with Lyft if they have COVID-19, think they have it, or have related symptoms
  • They will keep vehicles clean and sanitize their hands frequently
  • They will leave windows open when possible and avoid recirculated air when possible
  • Passengers will not ride in the front seat

Drivers and riders who do not agree to the Personal Health Certification will be unable to request a ride or drive with Lyft.

Walk

It may not have seemed like the best option before COVID-19, but for those who live in or near the Loop, walking may be the safest and easiest bet for getting downtown. It takes an average of 15-20 minutes to walk 1 mile.

Wear a mask

No matter which option you choose for getting to the Loop, remember that it is required under state and local orders to wear a face covering any time you could come within 6 feet of others. If you still need to purchase a mask, options are available from Kehoe Designs. Masks are $6-15 each, with discounts for bulk orders.

#BackInTheLoop

Share your transportation plans and return stories with Chicago Loop Alliance on social media with #BackInTheLoop.

About Chicago Loop Alliance

Chicago Loop Alliance (CLA)’s mission is to create, manage and promote high-performing urban experiences, attracting people and investment to the Loop. CLA is a membership organization as well as the sole service provider for Special Service Area#1-2015, and the Chicago Loop Alliance Foundation produces public art projects and events. For more information, please visit www.loopchicago.com.

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