Published October 20, 1997
Volume 5, Number 10

Commuter Check Program a Hit with Businesses, Employees

A growing number of local business are discovering the financial benefits of Commuter Check, a program sponsored by the Metropolitan Transit Commission (MTC) which allows businesses to subsidize their employees' commute by public transit and vanpools. 

The program is simple: Employees can receive tax-free transit or vanpool subsidies of up to $65 per month, or $780 per year. Since the subsidies are tax free, each Commuter Check dollar is equiva lent to up to $1.50 in regular salary. 

The benefits do not apply to just employees, however. Employers benefit because Commuter Checks are free of payroll taxes and qualify as a tax deductible business expense. 

Program Founded in 1991
The MTC started the Bay Area Commuter Check program in September of 1991, in partnership with the Commuter Check Services Corporation. Since then, over 1,200 employers have participated in the program, providing more than $14 million in transit subsidies. 

The real benefit, however, has been environmental. The MTC found that Commuter Check participants increase their use of public transit by an average of 3.24 times per week. This increase removed an estimated 17 million miles of vehicle travel in 1994 alone, thereby keeping 61 million tons of pollutants from entering the air in the Bay Area.

More Information
Information on Commuter Check is available from RIDES for Bay Area Commuters at (800) 755-7665 or at www.rides.org. For additional information, contact Robert Huang, the MTC's Commuter Check project manager, at (510) 464-7784. 


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