Metro riders who put aside pretax income to cover their commuting costs will benefit from the bill approved by Congress this week to resolve the “fiscal cliff” standoff.
Public-transit users, who saw the cap reduced to $125 a month last year (from $230 in 2011) will now be able to set aside up to $240 a month, the same amount that people commuting by car can put aside for parking.
With the drop in tax benefits for transit riders, Metro’s fare increases and ongoing work to fix the aging system, some commuters have been choosing to drive instead, some transit advocates say.
For months, they have been lobbying Congress to raise the public transit benefit to match the amount that can be set aside for parking, and the new bill does that.
Metro’s ridership was down 4.5 percent from July through October compared with the same time period in 2011, and a Metro spokesman said the drop was due to the lower tax benefit as well as the fare increases and the closure of the system for almost two days after Hurricane Sandy.