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Transit benefits may decrease

The Post's Lisa Rein reports that a benefit allowing workers to set aside $230 in pre-tax money for commuting costs will decrease by almost half at the end of the year if Congress does not extend the break.

The benefit was increased from $120 in 2009 as part of stimulus efforts to jump-start the economy. Rein reports that the U.S. Department of Transportation, which manages transportation benefits for 110 federal agencies, has begun distributing information on the change.

Metro spokesman Steven Taubenkiibel told Rein that about 170,000 federal works and 115,000 private-sector employees use the pre-tax benefit. Metro board member Jeff McKay expressed concern that some commuters might choose to abandon Metro -- which implemented the most expansive fare increases in its history this summer -- if the transit benefit decreases.

An extension of the benefit has been included in a draft bill before a Congressional committee, but the bill faces an uphill battle.

The full story is available here.

From the Post's archives:

Equity of Metro fare hikes questioned

How will the change affect you? Post a comment below.

By Michael Bolden  | October 27, 2010; 9:00 AM ET
Categories:  Metro, Transit  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Mikulski ad criticizes Metro
Next: Are you a regular MARC rider?


Good! Let it expire! Finally half of the metro riders (Feds) will feel the pain that everyone else has since they raised the fares to insane levels!

Posted by: yell53 | October 27, 2010 11:02 AM | Report abuse

Dr. Gridlock - The reality is the other way around. Higher subsidies allow companies to INCREASE rates. One of the excuses for raising subway fares was that most of the people are riding for free anyway because the govt is giving them this large subsidy. Another example is PRTC which cited the increased subsidy when it raised bus rates and they even said they would raise rates again if the higher subsidy is renewed.

Posted by: buffysummers | October 27, 2010 11:14 AM | Report abuse

I haven't been eligible for a parking or transit subsidy since 2003, but one of the things I recall thinking was odd back then was that as a private-sector employee I was able to have more money withheld as a pre-tax benefit to pay for parking at my office downtown than I was eligible to have withheld for transit use. As I recall, the ceiling for pre-tax parking was about $100 more. It caused it to make a lot more financial sense for me to drive to work downtown than it did to park at Franconia-Springfield and ride the subway. The only way to get pre-tax parking AND pre-tax transit was to pre-pay for parking somewhere, but WMATA didn't offer pre-paid parking except insofar as you shelled out for the guaranteed spaces (and you still had to pay the regular daily parking fee, which made the guaranteed spaces a bad deal since I commuted early enough not to need them).

Even though I enjoy driving and I value the flexibility it gives you, it doesn't make a whole lot of sense for the pre-tax parking benefit to be capped at a considerably higher level than the pre-tax transit. I think even the most hard-core car-centric folks out there can recognize the benefit of public transit if they pause to look at the size of that parking garage in Springfield, or the one at Vienna--imagine if all those cars were out on the road instead.

Posted by: 1995hoo | October 27, 2010 11:32 AM | Report abuse

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