Bay Area Commuter Benefits Program for both Public and Private Sector Workers

Under the Bay Area Commuter Benefits Program, which seeks to decrease motor vehicle traffic and reduce emissions, covered employers must provide certain benefits as of September 30, 2014.

The program applies to all employers with 50 or more full-time employees in the geographical area under the jurisdiction of the Bay Area Air Quality Management District.  This jurisdiction includes the counties of Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara and Napa, plus southwestern Solano and southern Sonoma counties.  Employees covered by the law are those who work at least 20 hours per week.

By September 30, 2014, covered employers must offer covered employees one or more of the following options:

  1. Allow employees to exclude their transit or vanpool costs from taxable income up to $130 per month;
  2. Provide a transit subsidy or transit pass, or vanpool subsidy, up to $75 per month;
  3. Provide free or low cost bus, shuttle or vanpool service operated by or for the employer; or
  4. Provide an alternative employer-provided commuter benefit that is as effective in reducing single-occupant vehicles as options 1-3.

Employers are required to notify employees of the commuter benefits they will provide and how to use them.  In turn, employers can achieve tax savings by providing these benefits.  More information is available at 511.org.

By Anne Yen | October 21, 2014

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