Union applauds Senate committee approval of commuter tax benefit

Beginning this year, the benefit for public transportation riders was cut to $125 at the beginning of this year. Public transit advocates complained because the benefit for commuters who paid for parking after driving to work was increased to $240 at the same time.

NTEU President Colleen Kelley said after the committee vote on Thursday that it was "imperative" for lawmakers to do the "right thing" and restore parity between the benefits for driving and using public transit.

“It makes no sense that workers using public transportation should be provided a lesser benefit than those driving and parking personal vehicles,” Kelley said in a statement. “Restoring parity is simply the right thing to do.”

Prior to the expiration of the 2009 economic stimulus package at the end of 2011, the benefit for taking public transportation to work had been $230.

Advocates tried to include the restoration of the pre-2012 level in the recently approved $105 billion transportation bill passed by lawmakers in June. However, the language was stripped from the legislation during the contentious conference between the House and Senate.

Kelley said Thursday that Congress should be rewarding people for choosing to take public transportation to work because of the effect the decision has on traffic and the environment.

“By reducing commuting costs for many working people, the mass transit commuter benefit provides much-needed relief for tens of thousands of federal employees who rely on public transportation to get to and from work,” she said. “It is imperative for Congress to end this disparity and restore equity to the transit and parking portions of this important benefit.”