If you’re following the Senate’s payroll tax drama, you probably know that last week the Senate extended the payroll tax benefit for two months. Unfortunately for transit riders, the Senate did not act on a measure to maintain parity between the commuter parking and transit benefits — meaning that transit riders will get their pre-tax benefits cut in half come January 1st, while those who drive to work will see a small jump in how much the government subsidizes their parking expenses. The parking benefit will be increased by $10, to $240, which is nearly double the amount of the transit benefit. The transit benefit is being increased from its original level of $120 to $125 for a cost of living adjustment.
According to the federal transit advocacy group T4America, there is still hope for the early months of 2012 when Congress comes back in session, but with Congress about to leave for the year, this change will definitely be enacted come January 1.
It’s not too late to make a call now so Senators continue to hear that this provision will do serious harm to transit commuters in January. Furthermore, transit advocates will likely gear up to put more pressure on congressmen in early 2012 after Congress returns from its holiday break.
We will keep you updated on how to help on this important issue. As the Washington Post said in a recent editorial:
The argument for the transit benefit is grounded in the fact that increased use of public transportation benefits everyone — even those who choose to drive because there are fewer cars on the road. No such argument can be made in subsidizing the parking costs of those who drive to work. Workers can choose to drive and park — but there is no public interest in government picking up part of the tab.