New Commuter Benefit Program

In Marchof this year the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (“Air District”) and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (“MTC”) approved a program requiring employers with 50 or more full time employees to select and implement a commuter benefit program by September 30, 2014.

The purpose of this new program is to involve employers in reducing traffic congestion, improving air quality and reducing greenhouse gases.

To comply with the program, employers with more than 50 full-time employees within the jurisdiction of the Air District (encompassing Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Napa, southwestern Solano and southern Sonoma counties) must offer a commuter benefit to their employees by September 30, 2014. Employers must select one or more of four commuter benefit options, notify employees on how to take advantage of them and register with the Program. The four options are:

1)Pre-Tax Benefit: Employer
allows employees to elect to exclude their transit passes, bicycle commuting or
vanpool costs from taxable income, to the maximum extent permitted by federal
law (currently a maximum of $130 per month).

2)Employer-paid benefit: The
employer provides a transit or vanpool subsidy to offset the employee’s monthly
transit or vanpool costs.The maximum
subsidy is $75 per month.

3)Employer-provided transit: Transportation
provided by the employer for free or low-cost to the employees on a bus,
shuttle, or vanpool service.

4)Alternative Commuter Benefit:
The employer provides an alternative commuter benefit that provides at least
the same benefits in terms of reducing single-occupant vehicle trips (and/or
vehicle emissions).

In addition to offering a commuter benefit, employers must designate a commuter benefits coordinator who is responsible for implementing the employer’s commuter benefit’s program and maintain records to document implementation of the commuter benefit.

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