Commuter Benefits: Are You In Compliance?

By: MADISON DAVIS, CEO/President, Brisbane Chamber of Commerce, madison@brisbanechamber.org, 415-467-7283

Recently I discovered close to 50% of businesses fail to comply with the Bay Area Commuter Benefits Program, is yours one of them? The program requires employers (within the jurisdiction of the Air District) with 50 or more full-time employees to offer commuter benefits and register through the program’s website. The program aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and traffic along with providing for tax savings for employers and their staff.
Employers can offer commuter benefits in the following ways: Pre-tax benefit which allows employees to exclude their transit or vanpool costs from taxable income which can lead to reduced payroll/income taxes. Employers can also choose to provide their own transit or vanpool subsidy (like a clipper card) with up to a $75 value per month. Thirdly, the business can provide its own low-cost bus, shuttle, or vanpool service. Lastly, the employer can offer an alternative commuter benefit that can be demonstrated as effective as the other options.
The Air District and MTC worked with cities such as San Francisco and Berkeley who had ordinances reflecting similar requirements, to coordinate a regional program with these ordinances serving as the foundation. The program provides employers the flexibility to choose which commuter benefit suits them most and does not require them to achieve a performance standard or emissions reduction target or switch to another commute mode.
Transportation is the largest source of air pollution in the Bay Area and commuters account for almost half of the total vehicle travel on weekdays. Ultimately, the program believes that by businesses complying, we will all experience better air quality and can work to reduce the impacts of climate change. Employers and employees will enjoy tax savings, employers will enhance their employee retention, employees will experience increased productivity as those who utilize alternative commute modes are generally more relaxed, and those that continue to drive will save on parking.
To review the Employer Guide and find out how you can comply with the program, visit 511.org
As we wrap up the year, I want to thank our businesses for their 2019 membership. Through your support we delivered 12 issues of the Luminary, raised $13k for scholarships, held events such as Students in Business and Government, The State of the City, The Multi-Chamber Business Expo, the brand-new Star Decorating Workshop, and 10 mixers. We look forward to your support in 2020 and we ask that you continue to budget your membership and scholarship contributions.
It has been a joy serving the Chamber during my first year as CEO and I’m excited about the opportunities 2020 will bring. I want to thank our many Luminary contributors, especially Dolores Gomez whose articles have become a community favorite. I hope you have a joyous holiday season with friends and family!
If you have a question, concern, compliment, or feedback I invite you to email me at madison@brisbanechamber.org or give me a call at the chamber office: 415-467-7383