Commuter Benefits for Bay Area
Bay Area employers must now comply with a pilot program that requires employers with 50 or more full-time employees in the Bay Area to offer commuter benefits to their employees.
The Bay Area Commuter Benefits Program requires employers subject to the program to complete the following tasks by September 30, 2014:
- Select a commuter benefit;
- Register via the program website; and
- Implement their program.
Employers may choose between four commuter benefit options to offer to their employees:
- Option 1: Pre-Tax Benefit. This option allows employees to exclude up to $130 of their transit or vanpooling expenses each month from their taxable income;
- Option 2: Employer-Provided Subsidy. This option provides a subsidy, up to $75 per month, to reduce or cover employees’ monthly transit or vanpool costs;
- Option 3: Employer-Provided Transit. Under this option, employers would provide a free or low-cost transit service, such as a bus, shuttle or vanpool service, for employees; and
- Option 4: Alternative Commuter Benefit. Under this option, employers would provide an alternative commuter benefit that is as effective in reducing single-occupancy commute trips as Options 1, 2 or 3.
Employers can visit the 511.org’s Bay Area Commuter Benefits Program webpage for assistance. The 511.org website also offers answers to frequently asked questions and an “Employer Guide.” Both of these documents discuss the applicability of the new program to cities, such as San Francisco and Berkeley, which already have adopted local commuter benefit ordinances.
The Bay Area Air Quality Management District and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission approved the pilot program. These regional agencies are responsible for air quality and transportation planning, respectively, for the nine-county Bay Area, which includes San Francisco, Santa Clara, San Mateo, Marin, Sonoma, Napa, Solano, Contra Costa and Alameda counties.