On Sunday morning, Council Member Dan Garodnick, Riders Alliance, Straphangers Campaign, and the Department of Consumer Affairs set up shop in the Union Square subway station with a giant calculator and an oversized tax chart, which they used to help riders estimate how much they could save on transit as a result of the NYC Commuter Benefits Law.
After calculating their savings, riders wrote them down and took a photo to share on social media, using the hashtag #MyTransitBenefits. Additionally, Riders Alliance debuted the “Commuter Benefits Savings Calculator" for riders to estimate their savings. It's available on their website at www.ridersny.org/calculator.
Under the new law, businesses with 20 or more employees will be required to offer their employees the opportunity to use pre-tax dollars toward transit. When the law goes into effect on January 1, 450,000 more New Yorkers will be eligible for the program, which saves the average rider up to $443 a year on monthly MetroCards. For each of their employees who signs up, employers will see their tax liability reduced, which means businesses save money through this program, too.
"We are putting money back into the pockets of 450,000 more New Yorkers," said Council Member Dan Garodnick. "By making transit more affordable, this will have a tremendous impact on commuters' bottom line."
At the event, volunteers and staff members from the Riders Alliance, Straphangers Campaign, and the Department of Consumer Affairs were out in force, talking to commuters about the program, helping them calculate what their savings would be, and giving out tips on talking to employers about enrolling in the program.
Rebecca Bailin, campaign manager at the Riders Alliance, said, "This new law will mean serious savings for hundreds of thousands of transit riders. But the law will only work if riders know about it. That's why we're talking to riders and helping folks estimate how much they can save with pre-tax transit benefits."
Zachary Arcidiacono, a Riders Alliance member from Queens, said, "I'm excited to be out here helping riders calculate their transit benefits savings. It's not as complicated as it looks. Everyone should know that the new law puts real money back in the pockets of riders for the subway and bus service they're already using."
Lauren Houston, a Riders Alliance member, said, "I used the transit benefits calculator and found out that I save hundreds of dollars a year. Feels like a holiday bonus! With this new law, my benefits are now guaranteed and my friends who work for smaller companies will now have access to cost savings that will take the stress off the fare.This makes the regular MTA fare increases less of a burden."
"In the new year, hundreds of thousands of New York City workers will have access to cheaper transit if their employer takes advantage of NYC's new Commuter Benefits Law. It's a win-win for riders and employers," said Cate Contino Cowit, coordinator for the NYPIRG Straphangers Campaign.
“Commuter benefits are a win-win for both employers and employees,” said Department of Consumer Affairs Commissioner Julie Menin. “We continue to work with businesses across the five boroughs to make sure they know how to comply with this law before it goes into effect on January 1, 2016. We’re proud to be joining Council Member Garodnick, the Riders Alliance, and the Straphangers Campaign, whose joint efforts are the reason this important benefit is now available to hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers, to educate New Yorkers about how much they can save when they sign up for commuter benefits.”