If you’re an HR professional or employer representative and considering providing a transit benefit to your company’s employees, but aren’t sure which product is best, we’ve got you covered. There are three ways to provide a monthly transit pass to your employees:
1. ORCA Business Passport: ORCA Business Passport is a, comprehensive, annual transportation pass program for employers who want to offer their employees a transit pass.
The premise is simple: Put the ORCA cards in the hands of all of your employees, and then pay based on average usage in your area. It rounds out to be a discounted product, versus purchasing monthly passes every month (which can cost an average of $1,404 per year fora retail two-zone Puget Pass).
The caveat: You must purchase it for all of your benefits eligible employees (you determine if that means full-time or if part-timers are included). With an ORCA Passport account, employers may charge each ORCA card holder a co-pay of up to 50 percent of the annual cost of the pass to recoup some of the cost. If that sounds confusing – contact us! We’re here to help. There are tax benefits available to companies that provide transit subsidies.
The minimum amount of employees you need to qualify for a regular passport program is 10 to 499 employees. Employers in downtown Bellevue can participate with as few as five employees. If your company has more than 500 employees, then a King County ORCA representative will work with you to create a customized Passport program. Please contact us for more details.
Company benefits include:
- Comprehensive annual transportation pass program within a single card
- Reduced administrative costs. The Passport annual program does not require monthly online administration or knowledge of what type of passes employees need.
- Annual payments and no monthly loading of cards
- Management of employee cards online
- Option to combine with Business Choice or E-voucher program to cover ferry riders at additional cost
- Equitable transportation benefits to all employees
- Pre-tax benefit options allowed for the 50 percent employee co-pay
Employee benefits for ORCA Passport include :
- Unlimited rides on ALL regular service bus routes for these agencies: King County Metro, Sound Transit, Community Transit, Kitsap transit, Pierce Transit and Everett Transit
- Unlimited rides on regional rail including: Sounder Commuter Train, Seattle Streetcar and Link Light Rail
- Unlimited rides on the Water Taxi: King County Water taxi to West Seattle and Vashon Island,
- Kitsap Foot Ferry: Port Orchard-Bremerton and Annapolis-Bremerton routes only
- Fully subsidized vanpool/vanshare: 100% subsidy on vanpool and vanshare. Learn about vanpool and vanshare.
- Home Free Guarantee: Up to eight free taxi rides home from work in case of an emergency:
If your company has more than 500 employees, your customized ORCA Passport does not come with certain benefits such as emergency ride home service or vanpool fare subsidy, but you may add them for an additional cost. You can also customize your ORCA cards with a company logo printed on them.
If your company offers an employee ORCA benefit or if you are considering purchasing ORCA passes for the employees in your organization, be sure to review the latest ORCA Business Passport pricing:
- Effective September 1, 2015 the renewal rate for ORCA Passport in Downtown Bellevue core is $637.49 ($53 a month!) and the cost per employee for new accounts is$492.53
- For Non-Downtown Bellevue companies, the renewal rate is $444.06and the per employee cost for new accounts $273.78.
2. Pre-tax: You can setup a pre-tax contribution toward a monthly transit pass, whether your company subsidizes a pass or not. Employees are currently eligible for up to $130 in pre-tax transportation benefits each month. Employers can save money on taxes as well. Learn more at the King County Commute Solutions website.
3. ORCA Business Choice: With Business Choice you can provide ORCA cards to as few or as many employees as you choose. Business Choice lets you include a monthly pass for bus, train or ferry travel plus stored transportation fare value via the E-purse, on a single card.
Company benefits include:
- Subsidize all, some or none of the cost of employees’ transit passes.
- Provide cards only to those employees using transportation services.
- Order products and manage cards online.
- Pre-tax benefit options.
Ultimately it comes down to providing a valuable benefit for your employees and giving them an opportunity to choose how they travel to work. Commute Advantage staff provides free consultations to all employers in Bellevue. If you want to discuss which program would work best for your employees, learn about transportation options or if you ready to develop a transportation program for your company, please contact Commute Advantage today for your free consultation.