By Roxann Galvan
Each year, Americans observe National Hispanic Heritage Month from September 15 to October 15. As a Mexican-American, I am proud to celebrate my heritage this month and use my position as Transit Benefit Program Manager at the RTA to help minority communities learn about how transit can benefit their lives.
I have been working in public transportation for 27 years, and the value of transit in our region is rooted in its ability to support the economy by being an affordable means of connecting people to jobs. One way for companies to make transit even more affordable for their employees is through our Transit Benefit Fare Program. Employees can set aside up to $255 pre-tax dollars per month from their paychecks to commute on CTA, Metra and Pace across the Chicagoland region.
Since joining the RTA, my goal has been to continue to build program awareness to make this tax benefit accessible to employers in the region and offer a low cost alternative program option for employers. But I still see many small to mid-size companies that don’t take advantage of or don’t know they can offer a pre-tax benefit program to their employees to pay for transit fares. Small businesses believe they may not have enough employees to qualify for a commuter benefit program, especially businesses with fewer than 10 employees. It’s my job to make sure every business understands that no business can be too small to reap the benefits of public transit.
In addition to my outreach to small and mid-size businesses, I’ve been working hard to make sure Hispanic and other minority-owned businesses are taking advantage of this great program. As the Treasurer of the Conference of Minority Transportation Officials (COMTO), I engage with my colleagues on better ways we can have transit support minority communities. I recently attended the Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce’s annual business conference to not only educate businesses on transit benefits, but learn about their needs and how their employees commute to work.
Personally, it’s so rewarding when companies join the RTA Transit Benefit Fare Program and discover the savings not only for themselves but also for their employees! If you’re a small to medium sized business, especially if you’re minority owned, reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org to find ways we can save your employees money when they travel for work.