The City Council passed a bill yesterday that would allow New Yorkers to set aside pre-tax pay for public transportation, potentially saving the average commuter hundreds of dollars a year. Just imagine how many Uber rides you could take with that, so as to avoid the miserable G train.
The bill, brought by Council Member Dan Garodnick, would require employers of 20 or more people to allow each of their workers to set aside up to $130 of their monthly pay, pre-tax, for public transit.
Certain businesses already offer this, but according to the Riders Alliance, 450,000 more New Yorkers would now have access to the benefit. That would save a worker making $33,711 (the city’s median wage) some $443 in taxes annually and give a grand total of $50 million to bus and subway riders instead of to the city, according to the alliance.
Businesses could save some money, too. The new measure would allow employers to save $103 per year in payroll taxes for every median-wage employee. The employer would decide how to distribute the transit benefit. Council members said yesterday they believe employers will most likely give their employees prepaid MetroCards.
After the council unanimously passed the bill, Council Member Stephen Levin, representing Greenpoint and Williamsburg, told a crowd gathered at City Hall that it was “a win-win for employees and employers.”
Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez, Chair of the Transportation Committee, hoped the measure would lead to a rise in transit riders, meaning a “greener future as fewer New Yorkers drive.”
As you probably already know, the MTA will be hiking its fares by 4% come March 2015. Gene Russianoff, staff attorney for the Straphangers Campaign, a transit riders group, said, “This legislation should take some of the sting out of the looming March 2015 fare increase.”
Jeanmarie Theobalds, a Riders Alliance member, relies on the transit benefit that she receives through her employer. She said, “For me, the savings make a difference. The money I save on transit helps me pay for health care and other necessities.”
But don’t plan that trip to Disneyland just yet: the bill still needs to be signed by Mayor De Blasio, and wouldn’t go into effect until January of 2016.
Council Member Antonio Reynoso speaking at the rally: