Earlier this year the Metropolitan Transportation Commission and the Bay Area Air Quality Management District adopted a Commuter Benefit Rule. Certain Bay Area employers will now be required to offer commuter benefits to employees by September 30, 2014. The purpose of the rule is to encourage carpooling and use of public transportation.
The new Rule applies to employers with an average of 50 or more full-time employees performing work within the following counties:
• Contra Costa
• San Mateo
• San Francisco
• Santa Clara
• Southern Sonoma County
• Southwestern Solano County
Employees who perform an average of at least 20 hours of work per week, excluding seasonal or temporary employees, will benefit from this new rule. These employees must be offered one of the following:
• The employer will allow employees to exclude their transit or vanpool costs from taxable income, to the maximum amount as allowed by federal law (currently $130 per month);
• The employer will provide a transit or vanpool subsidy up to $75 per month; or
• The employer will provide free or low cost bus, shuttle, or vanpool service operated by of for the employer.
An employer also has the option to offer an alternative benefit that provides at least the same reduction in single-occupancy vehicle trips as the three options identified above. Any alternative benefit must be submitted to and approved, in writing, by the Bay Area Air Quality Management District.
Covered employers must also:
• Designate a Commuter Benefits Coordinator who is responsible for implementing the employer’s commuter benefit program and for complying with the Rule
• Register online with the Bay Area Air Quality Management District and provide specified information before September 30 and annually thereafter.
• Provide notice of the Rule and the employer’s commuter benefits to covered employees.
• Keep 3 years for records establishing compliance with the Rule.