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Federal Transit Benefit Could Be Cut In Half, Worrying Advocates And Metro

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A federal subsidy designed to encourage commuters to take public transit to work is due for a big cut.

Come January 1, the public transit benefit available to federal and private sector workers alike will drop from $245 to $130 dollars in pre-tax wages per month — unless Congress votes to keep the subsidy up. The parking benefit will go up to $250.

Transit advocates are lobbying Congress to maintain both benefits at the same level, reminding lawmakers that suburban — not only urban — commuters depend on transit systems like Metro and its big suburban parking lots.

"Either extend the current parity between the parking and the transit benefits or permanently provide parity between the two. As an industry we would hope the parity would be permanent," says Billy Terry with the American Public Transportation Association.

An effort to make the $245 amount permanent stalled in Congress this year. Metro says when the transit benefit lapsed last year it dented rush hour ridership, when most federal workers are on the train.

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