With employees returning to work in larger metro areas, many are still hesitant to ride trains or subways. But many workers are held back by not having alternative options, such as paying for a parking garage after commuting to the office.
Mass transit or parking?
Mass transit and parking options are often available through employer benefit programs. These commuter accounts present a problem, though: they are mutually exclusive.
Money put in an account for parking can only be used for eligible parking purchases; ditto for the transit account. Users who sign up for one of the accounts often end up feeling frustrated by the limitation. At times, they can end up with hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars sitting in one account but no ability to use the money for a different scenario when the need arises.
But the needs of the world changed in the last year, and for once, so did the legislation.
Opening up options for commuters
While normally funds in one commuter account cannot be transferred to another, certain companies might allow that to change.
As a result of legislation resulting from COVID-19 relief efforts, employers can choose to allow employees to move funds between accounts for the first time since their inception. There is some legwork to complete the process, the most important piece being the time component.
The amount an employee is eligible to move is based on contributions made in 2020. This amount may be adjusted for contributions already made to the receiving account so that the monthly limit is not exceeded. The option is temporary and only for contributions made in 2020.
Here’s what it could look like:
Employers choose to allow employees to move money from one account to the other by filling out an update form. If an employee only has one of the accounts, they have the option to enroll in the other account. (Different administrators may approach this differently. Benefit Resource is allowing employees with existing parking accounts to make changes).
Once an employer provides the fund allotment option, employees are given the option to move funds. They must complete a request form to receive approval. After receiving approval, employees’ funds are transferred within roughly a week. After that time, the employee can use the newly allotted funds to pay for parking purchases.
Hope for employees returning to work
The journey back to the office (and normalcy) is far from over, but certain pieces are falling into place, including a possible parking space.
Those looking for a parking space might be interested in SpotHero. The app makes it easy to locate and reserve parking spots within walking distance to the office, cutting down on both stress and time. In Boston and New York alone, the number of commuters using SpotHero have not only reached 2019 numbers, they have exceeded them by 30%.
To pay, employees can take advantage of contactless payments through digital wallets, keeping payments safe and secure.
*Commuter rentals defined as non-monthly / non-airport reservations created on a weekday