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Home>Getting Around>Fares>Bay Area Commuter Benefits

Bay Area Commuter Benefits

The economy is roaring! 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 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.
 
VTA, in collaboration with the Air District, wants to educate employers about their requirements 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 $260 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.
Even though there are four options that will meet the requirements, VTA wants to be the first choice for employers and their employees. "We are reaching out to companies throughout the county to discuss ways they can maximize ridership to their campuses," said Marketing Manager Dino Guevarra. "For businesses that already offer a commute benefit or are a part of VTA's SmartPass Program, we are asking for more support in publicizing the program to maximize the number of employees taking advantage of it and riding VTA."
 
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 all VTA Express Buses that feature reclining seats, footrests and reading lights.
 
For more information,download these fact sheets or contact the Air District at commuterbenefits@baaqmd.gov.    If you prefer to email a program specialist directly use commuterbenefits@511.org.