4/27/14

"The Affordable Transit Act" Could Save City Commuters $85 Million a Year

At a rally today, transit advocates and City Council Member Dan Gorodnick called on the City Council to pass Gorodnick's legislation, "The Affordable Transit Act," which mandates big employers offering their employees pre-tax transit benefits.

Transit advocates Riders Alliance called the legislation, characterized by Gorodnick as "good public policy", as a "win-win" for employers and their workers, potentially saving an estimated 605,000 MTA commuters in New York City an average of $443.00 a year in transit costs.

The Straphangers Campaign, the Tri-State Transportation Campaign and TransitCenter have joined Riders Alliance in urging the City Council to pass the legislation -- before the MTA hikes bus and subway fares again in early 2015.

According to  NYPIRG Straphangers Campaign staff attorney Gene Russianoff, pre-tax transit benefits could save New Yorkers, now spending over $1,300 a year on their MTA commute, hundreds a year. The only pre-requisite is an employer-run transit savings program, which Gorodnick's legislation would enact.

Federal law allows commuters who use public transit to set aside up to $130 a month in pre-tax dollars for subway and bus fares, as they would for health insurance or a pension plan. Problem is, the employer has to make it available as a payroll option -- the way city government does for city workers.

Program enrollees pay their transit costs through their employer, usually with a pre-paid Metrocard or debit card that only works at an MTA vending machine. Employers either manage the program themselves or use an outside administrator.

The Garodnick legislation would expand access to pre-tax transit benefits by requiring New York City employers with 20 or more employees to offer the program locally.  Through the program, an employer can save $103 a year in taxes for every average New York City wage earner.

Passage of Gorodnick's bill would mean an estimated $85 million in annual tax savings that New York City commuters could spend in the local economy.

Nancy Ashbridge, human resource administrator at Gannon Vitolo Contracting, LLC, whose company has successfully implemented a pre-tax transit benefits program for its employees, has offered to talk with employers who want to learn more. You can reach her at 212-382-4210 with any questions.

Media contacts: John Raskin (Riders Alliance) 646-369-8093 / David Kimball-Stanley (CM Garodnick) 917-828-6628

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