5/11/12: Congress must ensure that parity is reinstated between the transit and parking portions of the commuter benefit in final highway funding bill providing relief to America’s employees facing high commuting costs, NTEU National President Colleen Kelley said in a letter this week to conferees negotiating the bill.
“The mass transit commuter benefit provides much needed relief in the form of reduced commuting costs for many working people, including tens of thousands of federal employees who rely on public transportation to get to and from work,” wrote Kelley.
Parity between the two elements of the transportation benefit ended on Dec. 31 when Congress failed to extend the mass transit portion, which had previously been increased to $230 per month. The transit benefit reverted to a maximum of $125 per month, while the parking benefit increased at the start of this year to $240 per month due to cost of living adjustments.
“Retaining the current monthly commuter transit subsidy also encourages greater transit ridership, which helps lessen congestion on roadways, reduces pollution and conserves energy. In addition, workers using environmentally helpful mass transit should not be provided a lesser benefit than those driving and parking personal vehicles,” Kelley wrote.
“Many of these employees, already subject to a two-year pay freeze, are struggling in the current economic climate, and a reduction in these benefits is imposing a severe financial burden on them,” she added.
The conference committee is considering House and Senate versions of a funding bill for road and transit projects.
Since Congress failed to extend the transit benefit last year, President Kelley has submitted testimony to both the Senate and the House, and NTEU has been working closely with members of Congress to address this critical issue through tax extender legislation or standalone bills.