As an employer, it's important to understand your team's commuting hardships and how you can help them to manage any associated costs. Each part of the country has its own unique set of transportation challenges. In the final part of our commuting series, we're looking into west commuting expenses.
West Commuting Expenses
The West has earned a reputation for its commuter woes. In fact, as USA Today reports, six out of the 10 worst cities for traffic are located in the West, with Los Angeles earning the top spot.
One silver lining is that many commuters take advantage of the variety of public transportation options available to them in this region. As the U.S. Census Bureau reports, Los Angeles, Seattle, Portland and San Francisco all ranked in the top 15 metropolitan areas where commuters take public transportation. This makes average commuting expenses in the West lower than other regions, because taking public transportation costs less than driving, according to The Simple Dollar.
Employer Reimbursement Programs
One way you can help your employees manage their commuting expenses is by setting up the commuter benefits tax reimbursement program, which allows your team to pay up to $255 a month of eligible commuting expenses using pretax income, as Forbes reports. In order for you to put this into place, you must set up your payroll to pull these funds from employees' checks before taxes are calculated.
Eligible employees can use this program to cover the cost of their bus tickets, subway passes and parking expenses. However, this reimbursement can not be applied to gas or car maintenance. As this program is most beneficial to those commuters who use public transportation, it has the biggest impact in the West. If you're looking for a cost-effective way to offer another fringe benefit, this may be a great choice for your region.
As the Forbes article above reports, San Francisco requires employers who operate in one of nine Bay Area counties to offer a transit benefit plan if they have 50 or more employees. At this time, no other city in the West has made this type of program mandatory, but this is subject to change, especially as larger cities try to encourage public transportation use to solve traffic issues.
While commuting in the West may always come with its challenges, there are many steps you can take to make the process a little more affordable for your employees. By offering the tax reimbursement program, you can encourage even more commuters to use public transportation.
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