SAN FRANCISCO - Bay Area transit agencies are offering a new commuter benefits program starting on Monday.
Companies with at least 50 full-time employees are legally required to offer at least one commuter benefit to their employees.
In the past, there were four options: a pre-tax account, employers paying for or providing a portion of that transit, or benefits to encourage carpooling.
Now, employers can offer working from home to fulfill that legal requirement.
The change comes after more than a year of working from home for many businesses. A precaution put in place to stop the spread of COVID-19.
"We know it’s been a really tough year and people have had the option to work from home and even if that continues, we still think transit, public transit, is a great option," said Brandi Childress, VTA spokesperson.
This additional option allows employees to work from home at least once a week and still receive commuter benefits, all while helping to reduce pollution.
According to the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, transportation is the number one source of pollution in the Bay Area.
This program will help solve that problem.
"Right now we’re really at a tipping point! We’ve got more people returning to the office, we’ve got more traffic on our roads and we need to reduce the amount of solo drivers," said Kristine Roselius, Bay Area Air Quality Management District spokesperson.
The program also helps reduce congested traffic.
"The roads are already congested and we’re not even completely open yet. So, I think if people can consider, before they open that car door, looking into the transit options and working with your employer to see what’s available, that is that step in the right direction," Childress said.
Childress said that VTA, amongst other Bay Area transit agencies, will continue their COVID-19 safety protocols, keeping commuters safe and making this new benefit option worth trying out.
"People can totally feel comfortable coming on transit and making it that great commute option for them," said Childress.
There are five steps for employers to get the program going, for those details and information on getting assistance or support for the commuter benefits program call 511 and say "commuter benefits" or visit 511.org.