Once again a bipartisan group of Congress members have introduced a bill to address some of the unfairness and, more importantly, poor policy implications of the current federal commuter benefit program. Namely:
- Cyclists can only exclude $20 a month, but transit users and drivers can exclude $130 and $250 respectively
- You can combine the transit and parking benefits, but you can't take advantage of both the transit/parking benefit and the bicycle benefit in the same month.
- Unlike transit benefits, an employee using the bicycle benefit cannot choose to reimburse themselves with pre-tax income, the reimbursement must be paid by the employer.
- You can not use the bicycle benefit to pay for bike sharing.
This law would only fix the last of these, but it would raise the maximum for bike commuting from $20 to $35. Same as the 2013 bill that was introduced by former Congressman Grimm (Rep. King of NY introduced this one) This is not all that bike advocates would want, but it is better than the status quo. None of the Washington area delegation has signed on to this bill, despite the transit increase from $130 to $235 being a huge benefit to DC area commuters, though most did co-sponsor the 2013 one.
The 2013 bill didn't really get anywhere, I'm not that hopeful that this one will fare any better.