New Proposal Would Let Boston Workers Pay Pre-Tax Dollars for CharlieCards

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The Boston City Council is considering a plan that would save some commuters money on their monthly MBTA passes.

The proposal would allow those who work in Boston to buy their passes with pre-tax dollars.

For Deidra Collins of Newton, Massachusetts, the cost of her commute to work in Boston on public transportation is a daily struggle.

"I have to pay for it all on my own. Every week, I'm spending $50 or so," Collins said.

She supports the pre-tax benefit being proposed by District 1 Boston City Councilor Lydia Edwards. It would mandate companies of a certain size to let their employees purchase their CharlieCards with their pre-tax incomes. Edwards discussed the transit benefit ordinance she's proposing at Wednesday's council meeting.

"This is something that's low-hanging fruit, that costs us nothing, but it can benefit people on their taxes and encourage more people to take public transportation," Edwards said.

While similar rules have already been adopted in cities like New York and Los Angeles, not everyone is on board with the idea. The Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce, which has long advocated for pricing strategies to encourage MBTA ridership, expressed concern.

"We have always and will continue to encourage our employers to incentivize their employees to use public transportation. However, we are reluctant to support any kind of mandate on employers," James Rooney, the president of the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce, said in a statement.

Edwards said the mandate would only be to require an option for employees. Other factors, such as how big a company has to be to trigger the rule and how the city would enforce it, are still being worked out.

A hearing is now being scheduled for the ordinance. Edwards hopes to have something passed this year.

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