Employers - SB 1339 Regional Commuter Benefit
SB 1339 authorizes a four-year program to enable the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) to jointly adopt a regional commute benefit requirement.
Transportation is the largest source of air pollution in the Bay Area. Reducing the growth in vehicle miles traveled is necessary to achieve the state's bold climate targets set by AB 32 and SB 375. SB 1339 will enable the Bay Area to meet this challenge.
Employers with 50 or more full-time employees will have the flexibility to offer their employees one of the following:
- The option to pay for their transit, vanpooling or bicycling expenses with pre-tax dollars, as allowed by federal law;
- A transit or vanpool subsidy up to $75 per month
- A free shuttle or vanpool operated by or for the employer; or
- An alternative program that provides similar benefits in reducing single-occupant vehicles.
Building on the success of similar requirements adopted in the cities of San Francisco, Berkeley and Richmond, as well as the San Francisco International Airport, SB 1339 facilitates a regional approach to involving employers in the effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector, reduce traffic congestion and improve air quality.
In Bay Area cities where these policies are already in place, most employers have chosen the pretax option. SB 1339 offers substantial economic benefits to employers and employees, which will ripple outward through the regional economy. Employers can reduce payroll taxes (roughly 9 percent of subject wages), and employees can lower their commute costs by up to 40 percent.
The BAAQMD and MTC can adopt this new requirement on or after January 1, 2013. Once the policy is adopted, affected employers will have six months in which to comply.
The two agencies are currently developing plans for drafting and implementing this requirement and will be seeking input from employers as part of this process. The agencies are required to report to the Legislature in 2016 on the results of the program, including vehicle miles reduced and greenhouse gases reduced.
SB 1339: REGIONAL COMMUTER BENEFIT POLICY
Frequently Asked Questions
Under Senate Bill 1339 (Yee), Chapter 871, Statutes of 2012, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) and the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) are authorized to adopt a joint commuter benefit policy requiring employers with 50 or more full-time employees to offer their employees at least one of the following benefits:
- The option to pay for their transit, vanpooling or bicycling expenses with pre-tax dollars, as permitted under IRS Code 132 (f)—the Transportation Fringe Benefit
- A transit or vanpool subsidy of at least $75/month in 2013 and adjusted annually for inflation thereafter
- Access to a free shuttle or vanpool operated by or for the employer
- An alternate option proposed by the employer and approved by MTC or BAAQMD
While the bill authorizes BAAQMD and MTC to adopt this policy on or after January 1, 2013, schedules for adoption are being considered at this time, and have not yet been finalized. Once the policy is adopted, affected businesses will have an additional six months to comply.
The policy will cover Bay Area businesses with an average of 50 or more full-time employees working at any location within Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara counties, plus the southwest portion of Solano County and the southern portion of Sonoma County. (For precise details of the Solano and Sonoma county boundaries visit http://www.baaqmd.gov/The-Air-District/Jurisdiction.aspx.
A person who works for a covered employer (see # 3 above) and who worked an average of 20 or more hours per week in the prior calendar month.
Yes. MTC and BAAQMD are providing employers with opportunities to provide input through meetings with business organizations. If your company belongs to a business organization that would like a presentation, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
As noted in question 1, the policy offers employers a menu of options for compliance, including Option 1 where the employer is simply required to offer its employees the option to pay for their transportation benefit with pre-tax dollars. If no employees accept this offer, the employer will nevertheless be deemed in compliance with the measure as long as the employer makes a good-faith effort to inform the employees of the option. Typically, employer cost savings associated with lower payroll taxes outweigh any payroll adjustment costs.
For More Information
We will send updates via email/electronic newsletter to employers who are already registered with the 511 Rideshare program. If your company is not already working with 511 Rideshare, please visit our contact page to find your employers representative and contact them via email or phone for more information.
Also please visit this page frequently to stay up to date on the latest information about the policy.