Policy should favor use of mass transit
For the last four years, millions of workers have been able to take advantage of a federal subsidy to help cover the costs of parking their cars while working or using mass transit for their commutes.
Unless Congress acts by the end of the year, however, the government will have an upside-down policy that offers workers an incentive to drive rather than use transit.
The subsidies, though identical, are separate programs. Now, workers may use up to $245 a year in pre-tax wages to help pay their mass transit or parking costs.
Beginning in January the parking benefit, which renews automatically, will increase to $250 a year.
But, because Congress has not specifically renewed the transit benefit, it will decline by nearly half to $130 a year.
Government policy actually should favor mass transit use, since it reduces congestion, pollution and energy consumption.
That is not likely to happen given current politics in Washington. But Congress should at least restore parity by increasing the transit benefit to match the $250 parking benefit.