I am pleased to share this press release the RTA just released announcing something called “transit parity.” As you may know, many regional riders sign up for transportation benefits through their employers and get pre-tax deductions from their paychecks to pay for transit fares. These riders can save riders hundreds of dollars a year that they would otherwise have to pay in taxes. For a while now, these riders have been limited to a monthly benefit of $130, while commuters who chose to drive and park got a monthly benefit of about double that. In essence, there was no “parity” between the two benefits and one could say commuters were actually encouraged to drive and park instead of taking transit.
As of today, parity is restored. We at the RTA are proud to say we had a lot to do with that. Please find our press release below and know that we are always working for you, our regional rider. Ride On.
RTA Welcomes Passage of the PATH Act: Legislation Restores Equal Tax Benefit to Transit Commuters
(Chicago) The RTA applauds the passage of the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH) Act of 2015 today, which restores parity between employer-provided public transportation benefits and parking benefits.
The RTA is a founding member of Getting America to Work (GATW), a national coalition of transit agencies, business groups and commuter advocacy organizations, which was integral to PATH’s passage as well as FAST Act passage last week. GATW’s members have been leading advocates for a change in the federal commuter benefits policy, which recently has provided greater benefits to those who drive to work. This change is expected to lead to increased use of mass transit, which reduces traffic congestion, commute times and pollution nationally.
“Passage of the permanent mass transit benefits parity provision is a big win for regional commuters and our economy,” said Leanne Redden, RTA Executive Director. “For too long, the system encouraged commuters to drive to work rather than use our robust public transportation system. Now that the benefits have reached parity on a permanent basis, I encourage regional transit riders to sign up for the tax benefit and more frequently use our public transit system to save time and money.”
The parking benefit and transit benefit have historically been on uneven footing. Last year, the monthly transit benefit cap was cut nearly in half to $130 while the monthly parking benefit cap increased to $250 and in December, the cap was retroactively increased to $250 for a limited number of commuters whose employers allowed post-tax deductions during 2014 that exceeded the $130 cap. The PATH Act permanently increases the mass transit benefit for those with employer-provided benefits to $250, putting it on par with parking benefits.
“As a downtown employer, a lifelong user of our public transportation system and the Chairman of the RTA, I fully understand the importance of this law,” says Kirk Dillard, Chairman of the RTA Board of Directors. “I’d like to thank the region’s Congressional delegation and Senators for heeding the call and supporting this legislation.”
To learn more about the RTA Transit Benefit Fare Program visit www.mytransitbenefit.com.