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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.

Scoop: Gina Haspel threatened to resign over plan to install Kash Patel as CIA deputy

CIA Director Gina Haspel. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

CIA Director Gina Haspel threatened to resign in early December after President Trump cooked up a hasty plan to install loyalist Kash Patel, a former aide to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), as her deputy, according to three senior administration officials with direct knowledge of the matter.

Why it matters: The revelation stunned national security officials and almost blew up the leadership of the world's most powerful spy agency. Only a series of coincidences — and last minute interventions from Vice President Mike Pence and White House counsel Pat Cipollone — stopped it.

Updated 11 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus deaths reach 4,000 per day as hospitals remain in crisis mode — CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March.
  2. Politics: Biden says, "We will manage the hell out of" vaccine distribution — Biden taps ex-FDA chief to lead Operation Warp Speed amid rollout of COVID plan — Widow of GOP congressman-elect who died of COVID-19 will run to fill his seat.
  3. Vaccine: Battling Black mistrust of the vaccines"Pharmacy deserts" could become vaccine deserts — Instacart to give $25 to shoppers who get vaccine.
  4. Economy: Unemployment filings explode againFed chair: No interest rate hike coming any time soon —  Inflation rose more than expected in December.
  5. World: WHO team arrives in China to investigate pandemic origins.