Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Good Move by Schumer - Improve Mass Transit Benefits

It's pleasing to see some early dividends from the election of President Barack Obama and a Senate and House with Democratic majorities. Senator Chuck Schumer announced yesterday that he has proposed doubling the benefits to commuters by mass transit. At the end of this post I have the URL for a site where one can express support of the bill.

Sem Schumer's concern is with the growth of New York City area commuters and with present and future MTA fare hikes:
[The] mass transit tax break has been included in the Senate version of the Economic Recovery package. The mass transit tax break would double the federal mass transit benefit for people who ride buses, Metro-North or other forms of mass transit to work, potentially saving them hundreds of dollars per year in transportation costs, increasing energy conservation, and reducing traffic, congestion and smog.
Sen. Schumer is essentially equalizing the benefit to be obtained for mass transit riders and those who drive to work.
Under current law, employers are able to offer employees a monthly tax-free transit benefit of only $120 to cover mass transit commuting costs, but they are able to offer up to $230 to help cover parking costs for people to drive to work.
The $230 benefit would be indexed to inflation.

The transit and parking benefits were initiated by the late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan. Employers to offer employees up to $120 per month in transit benefits, which are tax free. A corresponding benefit of up to $230 tax-free is provided for parking costs. In the New York metro area, the benefit saves commuters more than $150 million a year. Employers have saved more than $35 million since the benefit went into effect in the New York area. Sen. Schumer says that 15,000 companies in New York offer the transit benefit, covering about 650,000 employees.

Here is the site where individuals can post their support of the bill: http://schumer.senate.gov/new_website/contact.cfm.