October 17, 2016

San Francisco’s Commuter Benefit Program Made Permanent (article)

The Bay Area Commuter Benefits pilot program was launched in 2014 and requires employers with 50 or more employees in the Bay Area to offer certain commuter benefits to their employees (see San Francisco: New Commuter Benefit Mandate, Benefit Beat, 9/4/2008).  The program was to end on January 1, 2017. 


On September 22, 2016, Governor Brown signed SB 1128.  This law removes the sunset date for the Bay Area Commuter Benefits Program and makes the program permanent.  In addition, this law removes bicycle commuting as a pretax option under the program.


As background, the Commuter Program requires employers to choose one or more of the following commuter benefits to offer to their employees:

  • Option 1: Allow employees to exclude their transit or vanpooling costs from taxable income to the maximum allowed by federal law, currently $255 per month;
  • Option 2: Provide a transit or vanpool subsidy up to $75 to cover or reduce an employee’s monthly transit/vanpool costs;
  • Option 3: Provide a low-cost or free shuttle, vanpool or bus service, operated by or for the employer; or
  • Option 4: Provide an alternative commuter benefit that would be as effective as one of the other options in reducing drive-alone commuter trips (and/or vehicle emissions).

The Bay Area Commuter Benefits Program is a partnership led by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission and the Bay Area Air Quality Management District.  Additional information including an Employer Guide and FAQs about the commuter program can be found on the 511.org website.


The information contained in this article is provided as general guidance and may be affected by changes in law or regulation. This article is not intended to replace or substitute for accounting or other professional advice. Please consult a CBIZ professional. This information is provided as-is with no warranties of any kind. CBIZ shall not be liable for any damages whatsoever in connection with its use and assumes no obligation to inform the reader of any changes in laws or other factors that could affect the information contained herein.    

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