At the beginning of this month, Mayor Gray submitted a package of 11 bills as part of the Sustainable DC Act of 2013. Included in this package is the Transit Benefit Establishment Act of 2013. The measure would require that employers with 50 or more workers provide their minimum wage-eligible staff with some form of transit benefit. Employers have three choices.
- A pretax election fringe benefits program providing transportation benefits at a level at least equal to the maximum amount that may be deducted from the employee’s gross income. Those benefits need not include parking.
- An employer-paid benefit program where the employer supplies a transit pass for the public transit system requested by each covered employee, or reimbursement for vanpool costs.
- No-cost, employer-provided transportation in a vanpool or bus operated by or for the employer.
The first option could include the bicycle commuter benefit - if the employer chooses to offer it - because it is a qualified transportation fringe as defined by the IRS.
The second option does not include bikesharing as a public transit system that employees can choose, but it should (an employers would likely support that since it is surely much cheaper than any of the other options).
The third option does not relate to cyclists.
So this is a good bill, that could be made a little bit better if it included bikesharing as transit. [Bikesharing could be included as transit if the Commuter Parity Act of 2013 is passed at the federal level, but why wait]
In addition, DC does not currently offer it's employees the option to choose the bicycle commuter benefit in place of a transit benefit.
Gray claims that this bill, ....will move the District “even further along on the path to becoming “an international destination for people and investment, and a model of innovative policies and practices that improve the quality of life and economic opportunity for all District residents.”
Expanding the commuter benefits of DC employees to include the bicycle commuter benefit would help with that too - and at almost no cost to the District.