Bay Area Commuter BenefitsThe economy is on a comeback. How can you tell? Traffic is up and, in some areas, drivers are moving at a snail's pace. By 2035, Santa Clara County's population is expected to grow by 38% and jobs will increase by 62%. This means more cars on our roadways if we aren't proactive about a solution to help reduce traffic congestion, cut air pollution, and achieve the transportation-related greenhouse gas reduction targets established by the state Air Resources Board in 2010.
For this very reason, the Bay Area Commuter Benefits Program was developed and adopted by the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (Air District) and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) to help employers comply with State Senate Bill 1339 (now Regulation 14, Rule 1). The policy requires all employers in the San Francisco Bay Area with 50 or more full-time employees (employees who work 30 hours or more) to provide commuter benefits to their employees by September 30, 2014.
By now, these employers have received information about the Bay Area Commuter Benefits Program which has been designed to provide maximum flexibility for employers and to minimize reporting requirements. VTA, along with partners Edenred, which specializes in Commuter Check, and 511.org are collaborating with the Air District as well as local chambers of commerce to host “lunch and learn” sessions and provide presentations that educate businesses employers required to offer one of the following four commuter benefit options:
- Pre-Tax Benefit – allow employees to exclude their transit/carpool expenses from taxable income, up to $130 per month;
- Employer-Provided Subsidy – provide a subsidy to reduce or cover employees’ monthly transit costs, up to $75 per month;
- Employer-Provided Transit – provide a free or low-cost transit service for employees, such as a bus, shuttle or vanpool service;
- Alternative Commuter Benefit – provide an alternative commuter benefit that is as effective in reducing single-occupancy commute trips as the previous three options.
By making VTA their first choice, employers will help reduce air pollution and traffic congestion by decreasing single-occupant vehicle commute trips to Bay Area worksites while providing tax savings for themselves and employees. Employers can also show leadership on this effort by demonstrating a strong commitment to reducing employees’ commuting costs.
And then there are the overall benefits of riding transit! It is the number one way to reduce carbon footprints and save money at the gas pump. Letting someone else drive also frees up time to read, relax, update social sites, or get to know the person next to you. All VTA light rail cars are equipped with free WiFi and so are many of the new VTA Express Buses that feature reclining seats, footrests and reading lights.
“It’s a great deal for both employers and employees,” says Carolyn Helmke, Sales Director for Edenred. “This is an easy benefit for employers to implement because of the built in flexibilities of the program and employees love that they are saving on their day to day commute.”
For more information, please visit contact VTA partners Edenred at www.edenredusa.com / (415) 264-32140 or Rideshare 511 at www.511.org / (408) 321-5948.
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