BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – The Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority has come up with a plan to get more people riding on their buses and trains, by making public transportation more affordable.
It is a pilot program offering discounts to employers who buy monthly Metro passes in blocks, then pass the bargains along to their employees. It piggybacks off of a program that has been around for years.
Doug Hartmayer, the NFTA’s Director of Public Affairs said getting more riders out of their cars can improve the environment and quality of life, “We want to get more people on the buses and more people on the trains. It is environmentally beneficial to do that–lessens the traffic congestion, and it lessens the need for parking.”
It is called the “Corporate Pass Program” works this way:
o An employer buys a block of Metro Passes, and gets a $10 discount on each $75 pass.
o The employer then cuts $10 or more from the cost of the passes to its employees.
o That’s $20 off each Metro Pass, for a savings of about 38%.
Hartmayer said employers have to sign up for the Metro Perk Program, which offers tax credits on the purchase of Metro Passes, to qualify for the discounts, “which allows the employee to pay for that pass using pre-tax dollars, which then roughly knocks another 30% off the cost.”
The NFTA has set a minimum of 25 passes to participate in the program, but Hartmayer said there are creative ways for smaller employers to take advantage of the discount, such as pooling their resources to reach that 25-passenger threshold.
“A couple of smaller corporations could get together, combine their totals, and reach 25, meet the $10 off for their employees and they could participate. So, we don’t want to leave anybody out of the program.”
Between the discounts and tax credits, the NFTA estimates the cost of Metro Passes could be cut by half for employees who participate. Hartmayer added, this is a 6-monh pilot program they plan to start on June 1 and if it is successful, the discounts could carry through into next year.