“federal transit benefit for public transportation nearly doubles to $255 per month”

by Prince Of Petworth January 4, 2016 at 3:10 pm 4 Comments

Photo by PoPville flickr user kristenstake


“Good news for Metro riders in the New Year. Starting today, the federal transit benefit for public transportation will nearly double to $255 per month. Now transit riders will have the same tax benefits as those who drive and park.

The increase, approved by Congress last month and signed by President Obama, permanently raised the pre-tax and tax-free commuter benefit making it more affordable to use public transportation. More than half of Metro’s weekday riders use the transit benefit, which provides a subsidy to federal workers and allows employees at businesses to set aside pre-tax earnings to pay for transit.

The benefit will have a significant impact on Metro riders:

67% of morning peak trips are by someone who receives a transit benefit
More than 5,200 employers provide SmartBenefits ®, which allows the transit benefit to be loaded directly to an employee’s SmarTrip® card
Approximately 253,000 employees in the region receive SmartBenefits

The commuter benefit for public transportation fell two years ago, to $130 per month, and was a contributing factor in a decline in Metro ridership. Increasing the benefit level to $255 covers the total monthly commuting costs for most Metro riders.

  • Caroline

    Isn’t there also a law that goes into effect requiring all employers in DC to offer transit benefits? I keep seeing signs for it in the Metro (but my employer is VA based so it doesn’t apply to me).

    • Anon Spock

      20 or more employees, and it doesn’t have to be money like the Fed benefit. The company could offer a pass or a vanpool or bus.

  • dandandandandandan

    IANAL but I hire lawyers. Our lawyer clarified the first paragraph of the law for us. We need to offer a 125 deduction, meaning our employees can choose to take money out pretax from their paychecks and put it into metro or parking or whatever. Employer cost is pretty close to $0.

    (We do match enough to cover people who live in DC, but it’s not required. We also cover bike costs. And walking costs.)

    See https://www.wmata.com/business/employer_fare_program/transit_benefit_ordinance.cfm

  • RV

    This is not automatic. Agencies need to decide whether or not they have the money to expand this benefit. It is not in effect for my agency this month, and if they don’t decide soon it won’t be in effect next month, either.


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