Thursday, February 19, 2009

Not On Time, but Not Late Enough for Reimbursement

This morning's p508 commute was about 15-20 minutes behind schedule, arriving at South Station around 8:45 this morning, I was actually dozing most of the trip into Boston, as I've been recovering from a bug, so I'm not quite sure where the delay happened ... I believe it might have been outside of Boston University. Folks, feel free to correct me if I'm wrong.

So, the delay wasn't enough for reimbursement, but speaking of $$$, I did receive 3 letters in the mail last night for those delayed trains we had to endure in December. I love those form letters, especially where it says "We apologize for the delay due to NONE." Hmmm, maybe I'll try that at work and see how it flies, "Oh, I'm sorry manager, I apologize for not delivering my project on time due to NONE." Yeah, not happening.

In other news, I'm pretty excited for an upcoming change in my commute benefit via work. (I currently get my commuter rail pass via Wage Works). I found out today that the Emergency Economic Recovery Act signed into law by President Obama this week includes a provision which raises the amount of pretax income that employees enrolled in employer-sponsored commuter benefits programs (such as a transit pass purchase program) can use to pay for transit/vanpool expenses from $120 per month to $230 per month.

How the Commuter Benefit Works
  • The commuter benefit will now allow employees to deduct up to $230 per month from their gross income, to pay for their mass transit commutes. This is an increase from the current cap of $120/month. (The only way to take advantage of these tax savings is by enrolling in a commuter benefits program offered by the employer.)
  • Employees whose monthly mass transit fees are less than the $230 cap are allowed to deduct the full amount from their paychecks.
  • Additionally, employees are allowed to deduct up to $230 per month for eligible commuter parking expenses (no increase from current cap).
  • The measure helps employers save money by lowering their payroll taxes.
  • As a result of the increase in employee and employer savings, under the new law, it is also expected that the number of employees who are offered the benefit will increase, as companies not currently offering the benefit will do so.
All I have to say to that is ... sweet. My own pretax exposure to my $250/month T pass should go down ... unless the MBTA raises fares!


Matthew said...

The pre-tax benefit will be handy, but probably not immediately noticed in your paycheck. But, like with the payroll tax decrease in the ARRA (Stimulus Bill) any bit helps.

Currently MGH subsidizes my Zone 7 Pass (I'm a Westborough P508 rider) down to $165, with the $120 pre-tax, so this will help since all $165 will be pre-tax.

But in all, despite the lousy service sometimes, with my ride in and transfer to the Red Line, I get the $165 use out of my pass in a mere 9 work days.

Plus, I love the refund letters too. I have two to cash tomorrow. The MBTA will buy me a 6-pack, helps unwind after sitting on a stalled train for 30 minutes.

Anonymous said...

It may be worth mentioning for readers to keep track of their reimbursements they are owed. During the MBTA's big mailing at the beginning of January, I got none of my reimbursements for the October delays - just November and December. After complaining three times, they finally sent the October ones out to me. They blamed it, yet again, on "technology enhancements" they were making. Yeah right.

Framingham Rider said...

This morning the MBTA posted an alert that the 500 would be 15 minutes late. Since it was right around the time it would normally be there (5:35) I decided to walk over to the ATM. By the time I got back the train was pulling in, barely 5 minutes late. I hope nobody assumed that it was really 15 minutes late and ended up missing it by 10 minutes!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for that info! I did not realize that this increase in the tax-sheltered portion of our monthly train pass cost was part of the economic stimulis bill. One question though: When does it kick in? Now, or in 2010? Have to go to bed now, but maybe tomorrow I'll take a look to see if I can answer my question! Hey, it looks like it would put about $27 per month extra in my paychecks.

bam in ri

Anonymous said...

The 706 train at Norwood central on Friday 2/20 was canceled and the 708 which should have arrived at 7:30 wasn't scheduled to arrive until 7:55. Fortunately the Rte 128 station is just a 10 minutes (traffic free) ride away. I'll be putting in for yet another reimbursement. Over $120 in the last 5 months alone!

AJ said...

While Matthew kind of cracked the benefits issue, I wanted to pass along that my insurance agent recently told me I was eligible for a public transportation discount or something on my auto insurance because I take the train every day. All I need to do is present them with copies of my last few monthly passes. Why not, right?