What is the Bay Area Commuter Benefits Program?
California Senate Bill 1339, signed into law in fall 2012 created the Bay Area Commuter Benefits Program (Program). Employers with 50 or more full-time employees in the Bay Area are required to provide commuter benefit options to their employees.
- Employers can select one of the following four commuter benefit options to offer to their employees:
- The option for employees to pay for their transit or vanpool expenses with pre-tax dollars, as allowed by current federal law;
- A transit or vanpool subsidy to reduce, or cover, employees’ monthly transit or vanpool costs;
- A low-cost or free shuttle, vanpool, or bus service operated by or for the employer; or
- An alternative method that would be equally as effective as the other options in reducing single-occupant vehicle trips (and/or vehicle emissions).
Building on the success of similar programs adopted in the cities of San Francisco, Berkeley and Richmond, as well as the San Francisco International Airport, the Program facilitates a regional approach to encourage the use of sustainable commute modes, such as public transit, ridesharing, bicycling and walking, in the effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector, reducing traffic congestion and improving air quality.
In the Bay Area, where these programs are already in place, most employers have chosen the pre-tax option (option 1 above), which can provide economic benefits to both employers and employees through tax savings. Employers can reduce payroll taxes (approximately 9 percent of subject wages), and employees can lower their commute costs by up to 40 percent.
The Bay Area Air Quality Management District and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission are currently developing plans for adopting and implementing the Program, and will conduct public workshops to present, discuss and receive comments on the Program. View dates and locations of upcoming workshops.
See also New Bay Area Commuter Benefit Policy