Legislation expands Transit Benefit Program to workplaces across the Chicago region
July 25, 2023
Legislative action in Springfield will expand the pre-tax transit benefit program to places of business across the Chicago region, offering both employees and employers tax savings on the cost of their daily commutes and promoting transit as a first choice for regional travel. The Transit Benefits Program Act was signed by Gov. Pritzker on July 28 and will take effect on January 1, 2024.
“I am thrilled that the RTA’s Transit Benefit Fare Program will be offered at more places of work than ever before,” said State Representative Theresah Mah (D – Chicago), chief sponsor of the Transit Benefits Program Act. “This program makes transit more affordable and easier to use, allowing residents to take part in our efforts to promote greener, more sustainable ways to travel.”
Full-time employees may elect to withhold up to $300 in pre-tax wages each month to purchase transit fare, broadening their commute horizons to bus, rail, vanpool, and more. The average participant in the RTA Transit Benefit Fare Program saves up to 40% on the cost of their commute. These benefits can come in the form of either a reloadable prepaid card or loaded directly to an existing Ventra or Pace Vanpool account. While not required by the legislation, riders with an existing transit benefits account may also purchase parking at any CTA, Metra, or Pace Park & Ride station, as well as other qualified parking garages.
Employers with 50 or more full-time employees located within a mile of fixed-route transit service inside the six-county RTA region – such as a CTA or Metra station, as well as a CTA and Pace bus stops – will be required to offer their workers these new benefits. New hires will be eligible after 120 days of employment. Because of the pre-tax nature of the program, enrolled companies can see up to 7.65% in payroll tax savings. See if your place of work is covered in the RTA's interactive map.
The pre-tax transit benefit program is offered by a variety of human resources and payroll firms, such as ADP, and can otherwise be enrolled into by an employer. When an employer enrolls in the program, they can choose whether their administrator will place benefit orders each month or if each employee will manage their own orders. The RTA’s ordering platform can be set up to make employee orders recur each month. This means that if there are no changes to an employee’s benefit package, the order will be placed automatically each month. If an employer doesn't currently offer a transit benefit program, they can learn more and sign up at www.mytransitbenefit.com.
Transit is an affordable, safe, and environmentally friendly way to move around the region. Riders save on costs of driving – like gas, parking, and maintenance – when they opt for transit. Enrollees in the Transit Benefit Program can save up to $1,000 per year on the cost of their commute.
With new construction on the Kennedy Expressway and more projects expected on other major thoroughfares, transit saves riders time as well. Lane closures on the Kennedy have increased time spent on the road by up to 70%. Metra, Pace, and CTA have expanded service in the corridor, and many drivers have already made the switch to transit since construction began. Learn how to use transit during construction.
Transit is one of the most effective tools in the fight against climate change and the negative economic, health, and social consequences of traffic congestion. In 2018, the system saved the region an estimated 3.7 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions, the equivalent of taking one of Illinois’ remaining coal-fired power plants offline. In total, transit accounts for less than 2% of greenhouse emissions from transportation in our region.
Making transit more accessible to commuters through their place of work will ensure that riders have more affordable, reliable, and sustainable methods of traversing the region. RTA is committed to helping employers offer these benefits.
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