Public Transit Benefits Mandate Proposed For San Francisco Employers

<p>San Francisco's latest attempt to mandate employers to provide benefits to their workers is to provide economic incentives to use public transit or vanpools. However, unlike prior mandates, e.g. health care, the business sector appears OK with it.</p>
August 2, 2008, 5am PDT | Irvin Dawid
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"The proposed law would require businesses with 20 or more employees to establish a program to promote the use of transit by its workforce. Participation by employees would be voluntary.

Businesses would have to select one of three options. Two of them would place a financial burden on the employer, and one is considered cost-neutral...

The two choices that come with an added cost:

# Offering workers free transit passes or vanpool reimbursement;

# Providing door-to-door shuttle service on vans or buses.

A third option would allow businesses to tap into an established federal program in which employees can set up pretax commuter accounts to pay for travel on train, bus or ferries or by vanpool. The accounts could not pay for parking under the San Francisco proposal.

The benefit of the pretax program is that employees would save what amounts to 40 percent on their commute costs."

"The plan is the latest attempt by San Francisco officials to impose a mandate on businesses. The city has required paid sick leave, health care benefits and a minimum wage that is one of the nation's highest.

But unlike the past mandates on the private sector, this one has not run into major opposition from business leaders because of the potential economic benefit to them."

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