Councilors Lydia Edwards (District 1) and Michelle Wu (At-Large) requested a hearing regarding the adoption of transportation benefit ordinances in an attempt to promote public transportation usage in the City of Boston.
“Transportation benefit ordinances are not new,” said Councilor Edwards. “There are many cities that already have them such as Seattle, Los Angeles, San Francisco, D.C., New York, and the entire state of New Jersey.”
The ordinances would require businesses to offer their employees certain fringe benefits such as a pre-tax payroll deduction for public transit passes. Councilors Edwards and Wu hope that placing such measures would encourage more commuters to use public transportation, therefore reducing traffic congestion.
Councilor Edwards addressed critics of the mandate, saying “It does not cost the employers anything unless they have a huge amount of employees and they have an administrative cost.”
The ordinances could save employees money, especially those who have been pushed out of the City of Boston by rising rent costs or limited housing supply, by reducing the costs accrued from longer commute times.
“This is not going to fix our transportation infrastructure,” Councilor Edwards pointed out. However, she did express hope that the mandate could positively impact the rising traffic congestion by offering workers a tax break benefit.
Although Councilor Wu supports the mandate, she maintained that she is still working toward a future where it will not be necessary with a fare-free MBTA.