CommuteExpert: Helping increase use of pre-tax commuter benefits

At TransitScreen, we’re all about making it easier for commuters to get informed about public transit, including what’s nearby, where it’s located, and when it’s arriving. Our lobby displays and our CityMotion app were designed to address this information problem and make sure it’s available where people need it most, like apartment lobbies and workplaces.


As a company with many transit riders, we’ve noticed another problem many commuters face: The entire process is consumer-unfriendly. Many transit agencies make it complicated to understand the products they offer — DC’s metro system, for example, offers at least 10 different options on their fares page. And confused consumers either make bad decisions, or choose not to buy anything at all.

What’s more, employees at many companies (including ours) can take advantage of federal and state incentives to pay for transit with pre-tax dollars, getting 20–40% more bang for their buck.  By offering this benefit, employers can use transit to attract and retain employees — and they can also save money on their payroll taxes. Surprisingly, not all employers offer this benefit yet, but it’s required by more and more localities every year (including New York, New Jersey, Washington DC, Seattle, San Francisco, and Los Angeles).

Put yourself in the shoes of someone who has just started a new job, maybe in a new city, and is plotting out your new commute and considering using transit benefits. How do you go about figuring out the best way to pay for your commute?

Our new CommuteExpert tool helps solve this problem. You just answer a few simple questions, and it tells you exactly which transit pass to buy, and how much money you’ll save each year. You’ll need to estimate your one-way or monthly commute cost, but in the future, we’ll have that part covered too. You’ll be able to use this in any of the top 20 markets for transit for now — if we’re missing your city, let us know.

“In using CommuteExpert, I realized that I could use a $99 unlimited pass instead of spending $120 per month on Metro,” said Marie Cox, Business Development Manager at The Destination Sales & Marketing Group. “Not only does this save me money on my weekend trips, but it also saves my employer money on my commute trips. As a transportation demand management professional, I would recommend this tool to employers looking to minimize their parking footprint, enhance sustainability efforts, and maximize participation in their commuter benefits program.”

Now we’d like your help getting this tool to the people who need it. If you work at a company as an employee transportation coordinator or as part of onboarding or benefits communication, please try CommuteExpert and share it with your coworkers. We use it as part of our onboarding process, and would love if you did also. If you’d like to request any customizations (support for an employee transit subsidy, or one-click signup to your benefits system) or have any feedback or questions, please email us; we’d love to continue the conversation!

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