How to enroll your employees in Commuter Benefits

Reset San Francisco How To'sAre you a San Francisco employer? Want to save money on your payroll tax? Want to provide employees with transit benefits?

Well, for some, there’s no choice….

If you don’t know this already, as an employer:

As of January 2009, all employers with a business registration certificate and twenty or more employees working in San Francisco (including employers with employees contracted through a collective bargaining agreement, and of course, also including public agencies) are required to provide Commuter Benefits for employees. San Francisco’s Commuter Benefits Ordinance exists chiefly to encourage use of mass transit. Eligible San Francisco employees work on a full-time, part-time, or temporary basis for an average of at least 10 hours a week for the same employer within the previous calendar month. 

Side benefit: through this Commuter Benefits program, employers can save up to nine percent on payroll taxes. Learn more.

What you are providing (one or more of the following):

1. Pre-tax Transit: employees make monthly pretax deductions to purchase transit passes or vanpool rides;
2. Employer-Paid Subsidy: the employer pays for workers’ transit fares on any of the SF Bay Area transit agencies and reimburses workers for vanpool expenses (reimbursements must be at least worth the purchase price of the SF Muni Fast Pass);
3. Employer Provided Transit: the employer provides free shuttle service for employees on a company funded bus or van.

So, to set-up:

1. Perform an employee interest survey to assess how many employees will participate;
2. Decide if your office or a third party distributor (an extra cost) will manage the benefits program;
3. Choose how your employees will receive the benefits (transit passes, vouchers, debit cards, Clipper Card distribution);
4. Arrange for the monthly pretax deductions from your employees’ paychecks;
5. Develop an enrollment process for your employees;
6. Maintain an outreach system to ensure all employees know about the program.

If you have any questions, you can contact The Clean Air and Transportation Program by phone, (415) 355-3727, or email,

Paid for by Phil Ting for Assembly 2012. FPPC ID# 1343137