Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Commuter Relief Act Proposed

If you're familiar with the Commute Trip Reduction (CTR) program, you know that it offers incentives, such as prizes and encouragement, to those who use alternate ways to get to work or school other than driving alone.

Legislation that was just proposed, the Commuter Relief Act of 2011, would offer even more incentives for businesses to provide transportation options to employees. The act expands a series of tax credits for individuals and employers to make it easier for those who wish to commute by bicycle, walking, carpooling, or using public transit. Specifically, the bill contains the these provisions:

*Transit Equity: Sets the uniform dollar cap for all transportation fringe benefits to $200 a month. Currently, the permanent cap is $230 for the parking benefit.

*Self Employed Extension of Transportation Fringe Benefits: Allows self-employeed individuals to receive transit fringe benefits for commuting done for work purposes.

*Parking Cashout: Requires employers who offer a parking transportation fringe benefit to employees to also offer employees the option to take cash instead, reducing the incentive to drive instead of take alternative transportation.

*VanPool Credit: Creates a 10% tax credit for expenditures on vanpool vehicles and services; an incentive for employers and employees to share their commutes.

*MultiModal Transportation: Allows individuals to combine their bike benefit with other transportation fringe benefits as long as they fall under the $200 cap.

The best news: this legislation will not add to the federal deficit. The additional credits are paid for by reducing the overall transit and parking cap from $230 to $200 a month. Here's more information on the Commuter Relief Act.

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About SRTC

SRTC is the federally designated Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) for Spokane County. Urbanized areas with populations exceeding 50,000 people are required to have an MPO. SRTC was formed to address the county's transportation planning needs. It provides coordination in planning between the public, cities, small towns, the county, the state, transit providers, and tribes.

SRTC offers services including transportation monitoring, transportation modeling, census information analysis, travel demand forecasting, historical traffic count analysis, geographic information systems, and trip generation rates.