Payroll tax savings, increased productivity, reduced vehicle costs and traffic mitigation all cited as benefits
More than 200 Houston-area organizations have joined METRO’s RideSponsor program, an initiative designed to reduce traffic congestion while generating tax perks and other benefits for both employers and their staff.
The idea is simple: help companies and organizations encourage people to take public transit instead of driving. The enticement: both employer-paid and/or employee-paid transit benefits from Corporate Commute Partners in the RideSponsor program are exempt from payroll taxes, producing savings for both organizations and staff alike.
But the benefits go beyond tax savings, says program manager Karen Marshall, Director for METRO’s Ridership & Client Services. Providing transit benefits has been found to increase employee productivity, while helping companies elevate recruitment, retention and sustainability efforts, Marshall explains.
“RideSponsor has become a way for organizations to set themselves apart,” says Marshall. “When companies are trying to say they’re some of best places to work, being a business that supports transit is good for that image. Plus, participating in RideSponsor can help with sustainability initiatives such as LEED certification.
“Employee investment is minimal, and the return is happier, and in many cases, more productive employees,” says Marshall.
Employers can pay each employee to commute using public transit or vanpool up to $260 per month. This becomes a tax-free transit benefit for employees.
There is no capital investment required to join METRO's Corporate RideSponsor program. Employers manage the program online, paying only for the actual amount used.
Private employers, nonprofits, public agencies, federal government agencies and educational institutions are all eligible.
“Employees using transit options such as METRO buses or STAR vanpool garner savings with fuel and vehicle maintenance, they’re less stressed when they come into work because they haven’t had to fight traffic,” explains Marshall. “Millennials and the upcoming Generation Z are interested in good, reliable alternatives to driving. By providing transit benefits through the RideSponsor program, you are building for the future.”
Another way employers can enhance their benefits package is by offering employees the option of exchanging up to $260 per month in taxable salary for a tax-free transit or vanpool benefit.
Employers can subsidize the cost of public transit or vanpooling, and both employer- and employee-paid benefits are then exempt from payroll taxes.
Commuters in METRO’s Corporate RideSponsor program who need a way home during the day for an emergency have METRO’s Guaranteed Ride Home service available. Riders, who must first register online for the service, can use it up to three times a year.
“Riding METRO helps relieve the demand for parking, improves air quality and can help reduce traffic,” says Kelly Rector, TDM Program Manager for the Energy Corridor District. “And by offering employee transit benefits, everyone saves on payroll taxes.”
For more about METRO RideSponsor, visit here.
For more about transportation solutions, visit the Energy Corridor District’s Commuter Solutions website here, or call 281-759-3800.