Sunday, March 1, 2009

Increased Transit Benefit Seen as Boon to DC Commuter Rail

Officials of Washington-area commuter rail lines think they may see a bump in ridership from the increased transit benefits that take effect this month, according to The Washington Post.

"I think there is a potential for an uptick in ridership because for anyone who is around rail lines, especially on the Manassas line, it becomes a free trip," said Dale Zehner, chief executive officer of Virginia Railway Express.

The economic stimulus package signed into law last month by President Obama raised the transit benefit from $120 a month to $230. A monthly pass on VRE from Manassas to Washington costs $220. Transit benefits are provided as a direct subsidy from employers, a pre-tax payroll deduction or a combination of both. According to the article in the Post, approximately 65 percent of VRE's 16,000 daily riders are federal employees who receive the transit benefit. Zehner said commuters from points further out on his system will now be more inclined to take the train instead of drive

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