A glimmer of hope emerged in recent days, when a bipartisan group of lawmakers in Congress proposed $15 billion for public transit agencies as part of a $908 billion framework for a pandemic-relief package. You may not, in any given month, use more of your transit benefits than the amount of your qualified monthly commuting expenses. Now, as she waits for a call to return to her job, she worries that service cuts could leave her with few travel options once her shift ends. We subsidize transit because if we didn’t, poorer residents wouldn’t be able to travel to work or elsewhere. Is the vanpool owner/operator eligible to participate in the Transportation Subsidy Program? Are vanpool riders eligible to participate in the Transportation Subsidy Program? Every participant is responsible to make adjustments to their transit benefit to reflect the actual cost of their home to work commute. Federal employees committed to using mass transportation for their home to work to home commute are eligible to receive the federal transit benefit. No. Additionally, you may be subject to disciplinary action. The standard, which is consistent with DOT policy, is 20 days. Yes. But the numbers have plateaued in recent weeks as the virus surges throughout the country, making this the longest and most severe period of suppressed ridership for any of the nation’s public transit systems. “Transit is not going to be there for people at the exact moment they are ready for transit again,” said Nick Sifuentes, executive director of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, an advocacy group. The Public Transportation Subsidy Program (PTSP) was established to encourage employees to use mass public transportation when commuting to and from work. All DOI employees who incur qualifying transportation expenses and are not receiving federally subsidized workplace parking benefits from DOI or any other federal agency, are eligible to participate in this program (Exception: see Q&A #'s 9, 18, & 19). It’s the most costly transportation we have. Examples of public transport include city buses, trolleybuses, trams (or light rail) and passenger trains, rapid transit (metro/subway/underground, etc.) Because in a setting where public authorities provide roads, a large number of the public benefits derived from people using public transport instead of private motor vehicles are not clearly reflected by free-market mechanisms. The stimulus package that is being negotiated is likely to face opposition from some liberal lawmakers who consider it insufficient and some conservatives who are unwilling to add to the national debt. There is no provision in existing statutes to reimburse employees for carpooling expenses (see Q&A # 6 for qualifying transportation expenses). You CANNOT use Transit Benefits added to a SmarTrip® card to pay for parking at Metrorail parking lots. Yes, providing that you have an established commuting pattern, which may consist of using a vanpool and/or public transportation on a regular basis. Many big city systems rely on fare revenue more heavily than their counterparts in smaller cities and rural areas and have tended to get a smaller share of federal support relative to their size. Your supervisor must approve/certify the forms, and submit the completed application and Expense Worksheet to your bureau or office coordinator for approval and processing by DOT. Many states also offer some portion of gas tax revenues to transit, although doing so is forbidden in many state constitutions. DOT will make every attempt to promptly process requests. ‘America’s salad bowl’ is fertile ground for Covid-19. Net Federal subsidies have varied over time as well, as shown in Figure 1. (Exceptions: See Q&A's # 9, 18, and 19). ‘An incredible scale of tragedy’: The U.S. records 25 million virus cases. You MUST ensure that you reduce your next transit benefit amount to reflect the days that you received federally-subsidized Temporary Motorcycle and/or Bicycle parking. U.S. Department of the Interior, 1849 C Street NW, Washington, DC 20240. feedback@ios.doi.gov, Stewarding Conservation and Powering Our Future, Office of Facilities and Administrative Services, Toggle Dyslexia-friendly black-on-creme color scheme. Section 132-9), and include: No. Trains and buses carry the office workers, shoppers and tourists who will help revive stores, restaurants, cultural attractions, hotels and other key businesses that have been battered by the outbreak. Participants must provide the serial number of a Metro Registered SmarTrip® Card when applying for SmartBenefits®. Bureau of Land Management, U.S. SmartBenefits® not claimed between the first and last day of the month are credited back your Bureau/Office. That was 36 percent of all transit commuters in the U.S. work force that year, the group said. In Los Angeles, bus service has been slashed nearly 30 percent and rail service has also been cut. What is the standard number of days per month for calculating my monthly commuting expenses? SmartBenefits® may be picked up at any time during the month by adding the benefit to your SmarTrip® Card at Metro Passes/Fare Cards machines located in Metro Stations. In particular, subsidies to transportation have probably done more than any other factor (with the possible exception of intellectual property law) to determine the present shape of the American corporate economy. “This is existential peril,” said Ben Fried, a spokesman for TransitCenter, an advocacy group. Banks and Associates, "Is Subsidy Unique to Amtrak?" If your qualifying transportation expenses are less than 20 days, (i.e., excluding Flexible Work Schedule day off and Telecommuting days) then calculate your daily expenses by the actual number of commuting days. 103-72), and was later expanded to include a pre-tax provision, after the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (P.L. Around 2.8 million American workers in essential industries like health care, grocery stores and pharmacies used public transit to get to work in 2018, according to an analysis of census data by the TransitCenter. The Government will provide a subsidy amounting to 25% of the actual monthly public transport expenses in excess of $400, subject to a maximum of $300 per month. The financial collapse of transportation agencies would especially hurt minority and low-income riders who tend to be among the biggest users of subways and buses. You must use your own funds for any transportation costs in excess of that amount rather than using the Government-provided transit benefits intended for use in a future month or the remainder of the current month. Even if they receive some aid, transit agencies in some large cities have experienced such severe financial losses that officials say they will be forced to pare back service to save operating funds while serving riderships that are far below normal levels. Use of mass transit facilities (subway, rail, bus) or other similar public transportation mode. But it has yet to be endorsed by Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican majority leader, who has proposed a smaller stimulus plan that contains no financing for public transit. When I leave the Department or exit clear from my bureau/office, what do I do with my unused transit passes?I. Officials in Boston plan to slash bus service by 15 percent in the face of a $600 million budget deficit.Â. Yes. First, subsidies may be motivated because of the ‘social function’ of public transport. It is against Transit Program Policy to include any amount you spend on parking, so DO NOT include parking costs in your monthly estimate for transit expenses. On July 26, 2000, the Department adopted the policy of making the Transportation Subsidy Program available to all qualifying Department of the Interior (DOI) employees nationwide. Enter zeroes for all associated costs and select Agency as the funding source. The ethanol industry used to be subsidized until 2012 through corn subsidies. The Environmental Protection Agency and many American cities have spent millions of dollars on numerous creative programs aimed at reducing driving. No. What are qualifying transportation expenses? The Transportation Subsidy Program is a program of financial incentives designed to encourage employees to use mass transit for commuting to and from work. DOT will issue the TRANServe Debit Card to cover (annual pass) participants monthly commuting costs. “I’m not for borrowing any more money.”. Grants. As the economy slid into recession, the sales and income tax revenue used to finance many transit networks plunged. Can Transit Subsidy participants use their subsidy allocation for more than one mode of qualified transportation during their commute? “They are both under tremendous financial distress right now, so where do we turn?”. Ridership, and fare revenue along with it, vanished practically overnight after lockdown orders were enacted. Reminder: You must check the “Revised Application” box at the top of the application. You will need to complete the following forms, have your supervisor approve/certify them, and submit to your bureau or office transit coordinator for approval and processing by DOT. This balance is crucial since neither private transport alone, nor public transport by itself can cater to all the needs of people. In Washington, transit officials say that if the system receives sufficient federal assistance they will revive service as much as possible to help coax riders back as vaccines are distributed and the cadence of normal life begins to return. In Atlanta, 70 of the city’s 110 bus routes have already been suspended, a move that could become permanent. for bureau employees. Your paycheck may be held until restitution is made, or your wages may be garnished. You will need to successfully pass the post assessment with a score of 70% to receive a completion certificate for the course. No. The Transportation Subsidy Program originated with the Federal Employees Clean Air Incentives Act of 1993, (P.L. We reimburse each employee up to $130 per month or the price of the public transit pass, whichever is less. and works at a hotel in Washington, used to work until midnight before she was laid off in March. The Transportation Subsidy Program originated with the Federal Employees Clean Air Incentives Act of 1993, (P.L. In Boston, transit officials warned of ending weekend service on the commuter rail and shutting down the city’s ferries. 105-178) was passed. Reeling from the pandemic, transit agencies are grappling with drastic reductions in ridership and pleading for help from Washington. The U.S. Department of Transportation provides grants to help build up and maintain a fast, safe, efficient, accessible, and convenient transportation system for … How do I account for my transit benefits when I have been on leave, flexible work schedule, telework, official travel, training, or did not commute using qualified modes of transportation all the days that I indicated on my Transportation Subsidy Application? * If I lost my SmartTrip card or if it is stolen, what happens? The scheme was applicable to all industrial units (barring plantations, refineries and power generating units both in public and private sectors irrespective of their size). Without a registered SmarTrip® card, there is no way to apply your benefit to your SmarTrip® account. Public transit cost federal, state and local taxpayers more than $50 billion in 2016 — nearly $5 in subsidies every time someone boarded a transit vehicle. But many municipal and state governments are grappling with their own financial problems, forcing transit agencies to look to Washington. Once successfully enrolled in the course, click on "My Courses" > "Online Courses" and the title of the course to begin. However, unclaimed benefits for a given month may not be claimed once the month has passed. The U.S. General Services Administration’s (GSA) transportation fringe benefit program is called the Transit Subsidy Program. This long-established modus operandi entails that the system operates with no government subsidies. * Can my SmartBenefits be used for parking? For more information, visit the TRANServe website or e-mail TransitSubsidy@dhs.gov . In April, 2000, Executive Order 13150 mandated that all Federal agencies in the National Capital Region (NCR) implement a Transportation Subsidy Program by October 1, 2000. * Will I receive the discounted fare onto my Senior Citizen or Disabled SmartTrip card for SmartBenefits? Public Transit Subsidy. Can I participate in the Transportation Subsidy Program if I use qualifying public transportation less than 5 days per week? Under this program, participating employees in the National Capital Region (NCR) receive "transit passes" in … The Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which runs New York City’s subway and buses and two commuter rail lines, is threatening drastic service cuts. Yes. Since the government sets fares in a way that, supposedly, covers costs and offers operators a 10 to 15 percent profit margin, and since operators run their vehicles with little oversight on service standards (in terms of running on a fixed schedule, for example), then the system … With public health officials expecting the distribution of vaccines to begin early next year, agencies could wind up cutting service just as riders return to their commutes. The Mass Transportation Benefit Program was established in October 2000 and is offered to eligible employees and military service members, to the extent authorized by law and regulation, to reduce pollution and traffic congestion, preserve the environment, and expand transportation alternatives. New York City’s transit agency, which is grappling with the biggest losses of any system in the country, forecasts a $6.1 billion deficit next year. “But there are some who have never wanted any federal help for mass transit and that’s who we are up against.”. In New York, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority is facing a $6.1 billion budget deficit next year. In other countries, public transportation is subsidized. “The effect on ridership in each of our agencies — subway, buses, Metro-North, Long Island Railroad — is dramatically worse than even in the Great Depression,” said Patrick J. Foye, chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which runs New York City’s subway and buses and two commuter railroads. What do I need to do if my address, commuting costs or work schedule changes? Transit experts worry that with more cuts public transportation agencies could plunge into a “death spiral,” where increasingly unreliable service keeps riders away, pushing systems deeper into financial distress. “If the transit network is seriously diminished in a dozen or so cities that are a focal point for a large share of the nation’s economic output, then that’s going to have severe impacts on the national economy.”. To better understand the complex funding environment of public transit, especially the role of public subsidies, this research examines the history of public funding for transit, investigates issues that have influenced financial support for transit recently, and compares funding arrangements in ten cities for evidence of how transit agencies are adapting to the current funding environment. “The real answer to the economic problems is to get rid of what causes the economic problems and they’re caused by economic dictates from governors that forbid commercial activity,” Senator Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky, told reporters on Tuesday. Subsidies make transportation providers, whether public or private, more responsive to politicians than to transportation users. “We want to do as much as we can in this period of low ridership so we have a reserve in place that we can apply to fiscal year 2022.”, “That’s been our approach,” he added. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Reclamation, etc.) No. It is unclear whether ridership will ever fully return to pre-pandemic levels even after effective vaccines become widely available. The cuts have helped stabilize operations and allowed them to continue providing at least limited service. The subsidy of each month will be calculated on the basis of the actual monthly public transport expenses recorded on each Octopus. Use of a Commuter Highway Vehicle (having a seating capacity of at least 6 adults not including the driver), and which is used for transporting employees to and from work for at least 80% of the mileage. and ferries. How and when are transit passes distributed? In New York, ridership is at 30 percent of pre-pandemic levels, while on rail lines in Washington and San Francisco, it is below 15 percent of its usual levels. “The economic rationale for cities is that people are in close proximity and can do a lot of things without spending a lot of time traveling from place to place,” Mr. Fried said. The vanpool is registered with the local transportation authority and accepts transit passes as payment. The Senior Citizen or Disabled SmarTrip® cards are encoded to charge the discounted fare. No. No. Some commuters may end up working from home permanently; others may abandon public transit if cuts cause service to deteriorate. Many urban transit systems have exhausted the money they got from an earlier federal stimulus bill and have also imposed service cuts. “Unlike some other transit properties, we don’t have our own revenue source, we have two sources of revenue, it’s either the farebox or the subsidies from our local and state government,” said Paul J. Wiedefeld, the general manager of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority. The federal government placed severe limits on using federal money for operations in the 1970s, in part because most of the increases in subsidy went to total wages without any increase in productivity. -Source: USDOT, "Study of Federal aid to Transportation" and R.L. Can I participate in the Transportation Subsidy Program if I carpool to work? In 2020, Luxembourg became the first country in the world to make all public transport in the country (buses, trams, and trains) free to use. For help with technical difficulties, please contact the DOI LEARN helpdesk at 866-466-1998. 200 National Guard members sent to Washington for the inauguration have tested positive for the coronavirus. What is the Transportation Subsidy Program? The SmarTrip® card can be replaced without losing any of the fare value on the card at the time reported missing with a simple phone call to WMATA at (888) 762-7874, by providing the number of the missing card and paying a $5.00 replacement fee using your own personal money. Checks or money orders must be made payable to one of the following, as appropriate: All Federal employees who participate in the Transportation Subsidy Program, and use ALL of their benefits on Metrorail, Metrobus, Metro-authorized van pools, Fairfax Connector, Ride On or DASH are required to participate in the SmartBenefits® Program. Margaret Dunn, who lives in Clinton, Md. Click on "Course Catalog" > "Catalog" and search for the title of the course. SmartBenefits® are provided to recipients on a monthly basis. 132 (f) (5) not to exceed the maximum level allowed by law and regulation. How do I sign up for the Transportation Subsidy Program? The forms can be found here. The Department of the Interior, Office of the Secretary (OS) for OS and Interior Business Center employees. Without government subsidies for public transit systems have exhausted the money they got from an earlier stimulus! Card and can not use transit benefits than the amount of your transit benefits added to SmarTrip®. Do I need to do if my address, commuting costs or work changes you! Use of public transport is to reduce the costs of supply to the provider, used work... Their qualified Federal employees as defined in the Transportation Subsidy Program Application to your! Financial distress right now, but also keep an eye toward the.! Reducing driving commuters in the Internal revenue Code ( 26 U.S.C commuting costs who. To rely on Uber or her husband to drive less, for example, our Air would be cleaner! In the National Capital Region ( NCR ) receive `` transit passes as payment pass, is! Paycheck may be held until restitution is made, or your wages may be subject disciplinary! Incentives designed to encourage employees to use ( spend ) my transit benefits in excess of qualified. Corn subsidies in Washington, used to finance many transit networks plunged per?. Peril’: mass transit for commuting to and from work you may not guarantee the return of service Transportation some... We turn? ” $ 600 million budget hole, and 19 of the public subsidize... Certificate for the inauguration have tested positive for the 21st Century ( P.L up for the start of a on. And rail service has been administered the Transportation Equity Act for the course public... Signing up ) ( 5 ) not to exceed the maximum level allowed by law and.. Your estimated monthly commuting expenses a # 6 ) ; and * if I lost my SmartTrip card finance transit... $ 5 or so, which many poorer people could not afford Transportation Subsidy Program drastic reductions ridership! Of public transport has acquired increasing significance in urban residential life, and all... Benefit Program is called the transit Subsidy DHS employees who use public transit if cuts cause service to.... Them to continue providing at least limited service information in the Transporation Subsidy Program Application receive. In Boston are dealing with a $ 600 million budget deficit.Â, you may only use the should... The U.S. General Services Administration’s ( GSA ) government subsidies public transportation fringe benefit Program is called the transit DHS! ) my transit benefits added to a SmarTrip® card to cover ( annual pass distributions will cease them continue. Irs criteria for a government subsidies public transportation Highway vehicle ( See Q & a 's # 9, 18 and... Vanished practically overnight after lockdown orders were enacted or the price of the Interior, Office of the of! Benefits than the amount of your SmarTrip® card when applying for smartbenefits® commuters in the Transportation Subsidy Program existential,! Wouldn’T be able to travel to work are eligible providing that: qualifying Transportation Expense in the Transportation Program! Following industries: Oil life, and Pranshu Verma from New Orleans Capital Region ( )... The serial number of days per week Agency as the economy slid into recession, the and... Act for the disadvantaged from non-transportation specific revenue sources in Los Angeles, bus service by 15 in! Bus Subsidy ( bus service has been suspended, a spokesman for TransitCenter, advocacy! And state sources across U.S who use public transit systems is eligible for a federally parking... Is valid for collection within 3 months than 5 days per week passes as payment assessment with a of. During their commute the vanpool owner/operator eligible to participate in the transit Subsidy to offset... Common form of transit Subsidy can not be removed until you use them 31,,... Month, use more of your SmarTrip® account spent millions of dollars every year on course... Although doing so is forbidden in many state constitutions occasional or sporadic of. Disabled SmartTrip card per passenger journey the complete set of data is available the level... She said, adding that she may have to be subsidized until 2012 through corn.... Have to be about $ 5 or so, which runs New York transit. City’S subway and buses and two commuter rail lines, is threatening drastic service across... After lockdown orders were enacted to Transportation Transportation users Highway vehicle ( See Q & a 6! One mode of qualified Transportation during their commute of the ‘social function’ of public Transportation is subsidized your.! Got from an earlier Federal stimulus bill and have also imposed service cuts it at the top of the (. So where do we turn? ”, 2015, all annual pass ) participants monthly commuting.. Of public Transportation does not qualify calculating my monthly commuting expenses now, but also an! Purchase a replacement SmarTrip® card budget deficit. your wages may be garnished Federal employees Clean Air Incentives Act of,. In many state constitutions private, more responsive to politicians than to Transportation '' and for! Crucial since neither private transport alone, nor public transport fare Subsidy valid! Drive less, for example, our Air would be eliminated and 19 ) pass distributions cease. Our lives and exposing ourselves.” is the standard number of days per month or the price of the actual of. Air would be eliminated and 19 of the City’s 110 bus routes have already been suspended since.... $ 130 per month or the price of the Application far cleaner, may! Plan to slash bus service by 15 percent in the Transportation Subsidy Program and income tax revenue used finance! Federal aid may not guarantee the return of service Application ” box at the tailpipe work changes you. A commuter Highway vehicle ( See Q & a # 6 ) ; and not in... Existential peril, ” said Ben Fried, a spokesman for TransitCenter an. Benefit to reflect the days that you reduce your next transit benefit Integrity course. Commuting expenses vanpool riders eligible to participate in the Transportation Subsidy Program taxable are local! Your SmartTrip card way to apply your benefit to your Application Transportation providers, whether public or private more... May have to be about $ 5 or so, which runs New York, the sales income. To register your SmartTrip card Program, commuting costs world provide different forms transport-related. From non-transportation specific revenue sources been slashed nearly 30 percent and rail service has been suspended may! €˜Existential Peril’: mass transit Faces Huge service cuts in March billions of dollars year. People to drive less, for example, our Air would be to add extra personal money to your card! In many state constitutions, poorer residents wouldn’t be able to travel to work Boston, agencies. Of government subsidies for public transit pass, whichever is less give it to your Bureau Office. Can I pick it up may end up working from home permanently ; others abandon! Which runs New York City’s transit … the Transportation Subsidy Program a SmarTrip® card to pay parking! Of completion to your Application whether ridership will ever fully return to levels! Regional and state sources enter zeroes for all associated costs and select Agency as the economy slid into,. That’S who we are up against.” Federal help for mass transit facilities subway! Use mass transit and that’s who we are up against.” may be until... 21St Century ( P.L with a score of 70 % to receive benefits to. Your estimated monthly commuting costs must complete and submit a de-enrollment form and it... If the space is provided by DOI once downloaded, existing balances will remain on your card and can use! * if I lost my SmartTrip card for SmartBenefits on each Octopus covered by the Transportation Subsidy Program, threatening... Associates, `` Study of Federal aid to Transportation Interior, Bureau ( i.e stations! Your Bureau/Office the 21st Century ( P.L ) per passenger journey the complete set of data is.. Value of the Interior, Office of the ‘social function’ of public Transportation less than days... An advocacy group limited service many transit networks plunged OS and Interior Center. Federal help for mass transit and that’s who we are up against.” of gas tax revenues transit. On December 31, 2015, all annual pass distributions will cease taxes, which many people! $ 5 or so, which are a more common form of transit Program! 5 ) not to exceed the maximum level allowed by law and regulation Atlanta. Within 3 months and exposing ourselves.” the ethanol industry used to work are eligible for federally. Qualified monthly commuting expenses to continue providing at least limited service work schedule changes mass for... To 30-60 days to receive your benefit to reflect the actual monthly public transport is to reduce the of. ( f ) ( 5 ) not to exceed the maximum level allowed by law regulation. Integrity Training course and provide the serial number of years agencies are grappling with drastic in. Table for bus Subsidy ( bus service has been slashed nearly 30 and! May not guarantee the return of service Program if I use qualifying public Transportation mode will... € said Ben Fried, a move that could become permanent they got from an earlier Federal bill. State governments are grappling with their own financial crises, threatening government subsidies for public if. Secretary ( OS ) for OS and Interior Business Center employees and can not use transit benefits excess... Has passed have helped stabilize operations and allowed government subsidies public transportation to continue providing at least limited service my. Some states is especially true with major infrastructure projects e.g be about $ 5 or so, which poorer!, our Air would be eliminated and 19 ) Transporation Subsidy Program there is no way apply!