LOS ANGELES – Metrolink has appealed to key Congressional leaders to maintain a tax deduction benefit for employers who provide transit passes for their employees who commute to work by Metrolink and other mass transit operators.
“Removing the exclusion would result in an effective tax hike for hundreds of businesses and thousands of employees in the Metrolink region,” Metrolink Board Chair Andrew Kotyuk wrote in a letter to Rep. Kevin Brady, Chairman of the House Ways & Means Committee.
A proposal in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Bill (H.R. 1), would remove the federal deduction for transportation fringe benefits. This would eliminate an incentive for employers to encourage public transit use by their workers.
More than 280 Southland companies offer tickets and passes to their employees as a transit benefit. It’s been a vehicle for Metrolink to retain and recruit new train riders and take them off the road.
Metrolink operates seven routes through a six-county, 538 route-mile network. Its passengers travel approximately 441 million miles each year. The average one way commute for Metrolink riders is 36 miles.
Metrolink officials are concerned that if employers stop offering subsidies, it might prompt many train riders to resume driving and that would clog already congested freeways and worsen air quality.
It also would undercut Metrolink’s operating budget and could negatively impact service. An estimated 20 percent of Metrolink’s operating revenue – $14 million annually – comes from companies participating in Metrolink’s Corporate Partnership Program.
“It is imperative that the commuter tax benefit be maintained in any future tax reform measure considered by the U.S. Senate or House of Representatives,” Kotyuk urged. “While Metrolink remains a smart per-mile investment compared to other modes of transportation, we urge your support in protecting this important program for local residents.”
ABOUT METROLINK (www.metrolinktrains.com)
Metrolink is Southern California's regional commuter rail service in its 25th year of operation. Metrolink is governed by The Southern California Regional Rail Authority (SCRRA), a joint powers authority made up of an 11-member board representing the transportation commissions of Los Angeles, Orange, and Riverside, San Bernardino and Ventura counties. Metrolink operates seven routes through a six-county, 538 route-mile network. Metrolink’s passengers travel approximately 441 million miles each year, making Metrolink the second busiest public transportation provider in Southern California. Metrolink is the third largest commuter rail agency in the United States based on directional route miles and the eighth largest based on annual ridership.