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Axios' Ina Fried (l) and Chicago Transportation Commissioner Gia Biagi. Photo: Axios

The lull in transit use during COVID-19 has given officials room to experiment with public transportation for all communities, Chicago's transportation commissioner, Gia Biagi, said at an Axios event on Friday.

The big picture: Americans have shied away from public transportation during the coronavirus pandemic. But Biagi argues that declines in ridership provide a window to innovation that wouldn't otherwise be available.

  • Chicago has experimented with prioritizing bikes and pedestrians over cars in some of the city's streets.
  • "Migrating back to cars, going back to the way things were is not the future, right. The future is figuring out how we can get more folks moving around our city as easily as possible and not in cars," Biagi said.

What they're saying: "In addition to doing things like bus, rapid transit, pilot lanes, we've also tried to reposition what the street means to people. That is, that a street is not just about cars, it's about moving and it's about place ... COVID gave us the chance to experiment with that dialogue."

  • "We're actually helping Chicagoans to see that their street should be doing other things and that if we can complement that with enough modes of alternative transit as opposed to a car, then we can really reposition the quality of life for many neighborhoods," she added.

Go deeper

Oct 30, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Transportation companies help voters get to the polls

Photo: Wang Ying/Xinhua via Getty Images

Ride-hailing companies and other tech mobility firms are trying to make sure all eligible citizens have an opportunity to vote.

Why it matters: A 2016 Harvard study found 14% of eligible voters cited transportation as a barrier to casting their ballot.

Updated 11 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Rae Cook/Axios

  1. Health: CDC expects new COVID surge starting this month — Coronavirus cases hit a seven-month low
  2. Politics: Federal judge overturns CDC's eviction moratorium — Why Biden's latest vaccine goal is his hardest yet.
  3. Vaccines: Moderna says its COVID booster shot shows promise against variants — U.S. will support waiving vaccine patents — Education secretary: All schools expected to be fully in-person this fall
  4. Economy: U.S. may have added more than 2 million jobs in April — A surge in youth unemployment.
  5. World: True COVID-19 death toll is double the official numbers, study finds — Countries testing J&J vaccine doses after contamination at Baltimore plant — Germany opposes Biden's support for waiving vaccine patents
  6. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.
Dave Lawler, author of World
21 mins ago - World

True COVID-19 death toll is double the official numbers, study finds

Expand chart
Data: IHME; Chart: Will Chase/Axios

There have been twice as many deaths from COVID-19 around the world as have been reported, according to the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), which analyzed excess mortality and other factors.

The big picture: The U.S. has undercounted by over 300,000 deaths, while the death tolls in India and Mexico — second and third on the list, respectively — are nearly three times the official numbers, according to the analysis.