Compliance Briefing Center

Commuter

{Making it Easier for You
to Manage Benefits}

Bay Area Employers Requirement to Offer Commuter Benefits Extended Indefinitely

The Bay Area Commuter Benefits Program pilot program, set to expire on December 31, 2016, was a way to encourage employees to use some form of public transportation for commuting other than driving alone. (See our Bay Area Alert) On September 22, 2016, Governor Jerry Brown signed SB-1128  making the pilot program, with slight changes, permanent, meaning it DOES NOT expire on December 31, 2016.

Background
Any “Covered Employer” must offer a “Covered Employee” at least one of the following commuter benefit options (see below). A Covered Employer is an employer that has 50 or more full-time employees (worked an average of at least 30 hours per week during the previous calendar month) who work within the nine San Francisco Bay Area counties of Alameda, Contra Costa, Napa, Solano, Sonoma, Marin, Santa Clara, San Mateo, and San Francisco.  A Covered Employee is an employee who worked an average of 20 or more hours per week within the previous calendar month. Seasonal or temporary employees who work less than 120 days per year are excluded.

  • Option 1 - Allow employees to exclude their transit passes or vanpool expenses from taxable income, up to $255 (2016) per month.
  • Option 2 - Provide a subsidy to reduce or cover employees’ monthly transit, vanpool, or in addition at the employer’s discretion, bicycle expenses. The subsidy provided must be at least the lower of either the monthly cost of commuting and (a) $75 (indexed) for transit or vanpool and (b) $20 for bicycle per month.
  • Option 3 - Provide a free or low-cost bus, shuttle, or vanpool service operated by or for the employer.
  • Option 4 - Provide an alternative commuter benefit that is as effective in reducing single-occupancy commute trips as other options, such as carpools, bicycling, walking, lunchtime shuttles, telecommuting, or compressed workweeks as may be approved by the Bay Area Air Quality Management District or the Metropolitan Transportation Commission.

Covered Employers must register with the Air District/MTC if they have not already done so. Learn more about the program, find the Employer Guide, and register at http://511.org/employers/commuter/program.  For employers already in the program, you will need to evaluate the four commuter benefit options now available to ensure compliance with these amended commuter benefit policies

Let WageWorks help you with your transit program. Contact your Relationship Management Team or call 866-602-3887 for information about WageWorks commuter programs.

Download a copy of this Alert.