In October 2016, ACT launched its “25 by 20 Transit Benefits Ordinance Campaign” with the goal of encouraging 25 local governments to pass transit benefit ordinances by the end of 2020. Passage of transit benefits ordinances in communities across the country would increase access and reduce the cost of public transit and vanpooling for millions of commuters, resulting in the reduction of drive alone commuters and congestion.
Such ordinances originate in Section 132(f) of the United States Internal Revenue Code, which paves the way for employers to provide parking, transit, vanpool, and bicycle expenses on a tax-free basis. In 2015, Congress passed legislation to establish parity between the parking benefit and the transit/vanpool benefit: monthly caps for parking, transit, and vanpool benefits are now set at $255/month. (The bicycle benefit is set at $20/month.)
David Judd, Vice President at Edenred Commuter Benefits Solutions and Board Member of ACT, said, “The 25 x 20 Campaign highlights ACT’s leadership in the transportation community, promoting a program that improves commuter mobility and is proven to reduce congestion.” These ordinances also promote improved air quality and employee satisfaction while putting more money in the pockets of families.
Transit benefits can be offered in three different ways, so flexibility is built into the system. Business communities see advantages to offering such benefits and appreciate that costs are minimal, involving in many cases only administrative hours. Ordinances have already passed in San Francisco, Washington, and New York City. In some regions, transit agencies provide basic services that enable employers to sign up and administer a transit benefit for employees. More custom services and direct employee assistance can be accessed through third party vendors like Edenred and WageWorks.
ACT’s Public Policy Committee is heading up the planning and promotion of this campaign, but there are plenty of opportunities to get involved. David Straus, ACT Executive Director, said, “We welcome people who are interested in volunteering or participating in some capacity. If you would like to promote an ordinance in your community, that’s even better. Please get in touch and let us know your area of interest.”