Congress extends transit benefits
I've got more answers to your questions about the upcoming changes in the transit benefits program, with help from Angela Gates, a Metro spokeswoman.
The House last night passed HR 4853, which includes a one-year extension on the $230 per month limit for employer-sponsored transit benefits. Before passage of the bill, which also has cleared the Senate, the monthly limit had been scheduled to return to $120 in January. The bill goes to President Obama for signature.
The other, more complicated change in transit benefits still is scheduled to take effect in January. The SmartBenefits program, complying with an IRS rule, will require employers and employees in the program to divide the benefits they download to SmarTrip cards into separate sections for transit riding and transit parking.
Let's do a little more Q&A on this. After that, please fill out the online form and share your experiences with the changes.
Q. What happens if I didn't set up a parking account for January and I may need to drive to Metro? Can't use cash, so what will happen?
A. Add value to your SmarTrip card to pay for parking. Personal funds added to the card can be used for transit or parking.
Q. If I don't use SmartBenefits and don't have a benefit to download onto my card, will the fare gate, the bus fare box or the parking gate machine still show me the value of what I added directly to the card, as it does now? Or must I look elsewhere for that information?
A. If you do not participate in SmartBenefits, the bus fare box, fare gate and parking target will show your personal stored value as it does now.
Q. Once my transit benefit for the month is exhausted, will the fare gate or fare box then show me what's in my general fund?
A. Yes, once you exhaust your transit benefit, your personal stored value will be displayed.
I don't believe we've exhausted riders' questions on this topic, so keep them coming. You can write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. But please look at the new form we've added below in which you can share your experiences.
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