Wednesday, April 23, 2014

By Sept 30, 2014, ERs with More Than 49 Full-time EEs in the SF Bay Area will be Required to Offer Commuter Benefits

Who must comply? Employers with an average of 50 or more full-time employees per week working in the San Francisco Bay Area – the nine counties that surround the San Francisco Bay (i.e., Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, southern Sonoma, and southwestern Solano counties) – are required to comply with the program’s rules.

Who must be offered commuter benefits? Commuter benefits must be offered to employees who work an average of at least 20 hours per week during the previous calendar month within the geographic boundaries of the Bay Area and the above listed counties.

Five Steps to Compliance

Stept 1.  Select an Option - Commuter Benefit Options. Employers will need to select one of the following benefit options to offer to covered employees:
  • Option 1 — Pre-Tax Benefit. The employer allows employees to pay their transit or vanpool fares using pre-tax dollars, up to the maximum amount allowed by federal law (e.g., for 2014, $130 per month). 
  • Option 2 — Employer-Provided Subsidy. The employer provides a subsidy to cover the employee’s monthly transit or vanpool costs, up to a maximum of $75 per month (adjusted annually). 
  • Option 3 — Employer-Provided Transit. The employer provides a free or low-cost commuter transportation service for its employees (e.g., a shuttle service from a nearby transit station to the worksite). 
  • Option 4 — Alternative Commuter Benefit Program. An employer may also propose, and seek approval of, an alternative commuter benefit program that would provide at least the same reduction in single-occupant vehicle trips as any of the other above-described options. 
Example. If you have 30 full time employees located in San Francisco County, 15 employees in Santa Clara County, and 6 employees in Marin County, you have 50 or more combined in the nine counties listed above and you are subject to comply with this program.

If you have less than 50 full-time employees working in the San Francisco Bay Area, which consist of the counties listed above, your participation in the program is not necessary.

Step 2.  Designate a Commuter Benefits Coordinator.  For the purpose of this program, this is simply the person who will complete the registration form and report to the Air District/ MTC. (a human resources staff person, for example) and backup person to complete the online registration on behalf of your company. That Coordinator will have exclusive access to your registration information.

Step 3.  Go to and click on Bay Area Commuter Benefits Program to register.

Step 4.  Notify employees of the commuter benefit that your company will provide. Inform employees how to take advantage of the benefit.

Step 5.  Keep records to document implementation of your commuter benefits program and make available to the Air District/MTC upon request.

Even if you currently have a flex spending plan that includes a transportation benefit, your company must complete the registration process. If you currently don’t offer a Transportation benefit through your Flex administrator, your BB&T representative can assist with providing a quote.

For more details, visit or contact us.  See also a detailed list of program requirements.