Enforcement of the Bay Area's commuter benefits program is being stepped up and unregistered employers may be fined and face violations, officials with the Bay Area Air Quality Management District said Tuesday.
The 2016 law requires Bay Area employers with 50 or more full-time employees to register at 511.org and provide benefits to their employees.
Employers have four options for providing benefits. Employees can exclude up to $255 of their transit or vanpooling costs each month from their taxable income.
Employers can provide a subsidy of up to $75 a month to reduce or cover employees' transit or vanpooling costs.
A free or low-cost transit service such as a bus or shuttle can be provided to employees.
Or an alternative that is as effective in reducing single-occupancy commuter trips can be provided.
Air district officials said employees can save as much as 40 percent on their monthly transit or vanpool costs by setting aside pre-tax money for commuting.
Air district officials will be in touch with employers who must participate in the program. Employers can get assistance from specialists by calling 511 and saying "commuter benefits" at the first prompt.
Information is also available on the 511 website by clicking on Bay Area Commuter Benefits Program. Employer requirements and other details can be found here.
"Employees are more likely to change their commuting behavior if it is encouraged and promoted by their employer," air district Executive Director Jack Broadbent said in a statement.
As of Aug. 31, 4,100 employers had signed up for the program and about 1.3 million employees were receiving benefits.
The law aims to reduce greenhouse gases and traffic congestion by encouraging employees to commute or use another way to get to work besides driving alone.