How straphangers can save hundreds of dollars a year, starting in January

Council Member Dan Garodnick speaks at an event in Union Square to promote the Community Benefits Law, which will save commuters an average of $443 a year in monthly MetroCards. (Photo courtesy of Riders Alliance)

Council Member Dan Garodnick speaks at an event in Union Square to promote the Community Benefits Law, which will save commuters an average of $443 a year in monthly MetroCards. (Photo courtesy of Riders Alliance)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

To help commuters estimate how much they could save on transit as a result of the new Commuter Benefits Law, City Council Member Dan Garodnick joined representatives from the Rider’s Alliance, Straphangers Campaign and the Department of Consumer Affairs in the Union Square subway station on Sunday with a giant calculator and an oversized tax chart.

Garodnick had originally proposed the legislation in the spring of 2014 and Mayor Bill de Blasio signed the legislation that October, but the councilmember held the event in Union Square last weekend as a reminder that commuters should take advantage of the benefits because the law officially goes into effect on January 1, 2016.

The new law will require businesses with 20 or more employees to offer workers the opportunity to use pre-tax dollars toward transit. Garodnick said that there was previously no requirement for employers and once the law goes into effect, the Department of Consumer Affairs will have the power to enforce it. But he emphasized that he wants to let both employers and employees know about the program’s advantages rather than worry about consequences of non-compliance.

“At this moment we’re really trying to educate,” he said. “We want people to know it’s a benefit that will be available and encourage employers to set it up.”

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