Mass Transit:

Federal Participation in Transit Benefit Programs

T-RCED-93-72: Published: Sep 23, 1993. Publicly Released: Sep 23, 1993.

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GAO discussed federal agency and employee participation in transit benefit programs in the 25 largest metropolitan areas, focusing on: (1) the extent and cost of federal participation; and (2) how employee participation affects commuting behavior. GAO noted that: (1) as of 1993, 75 federal agencies have participated in mass transit benefit programs; (2) three quarters of all participating employees live in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area; (3) although three-fourths of the participating employees already use public transportation as their primary commuting source, 21 percent have changed their primary means of commuting as a direct result of transit benefits; (4) the benefits and cost-effectiveness of the transit benefit program are difficult to measure because the program lacks specific goals; (5) if transit benefits are increased to $60 per month, employee participation rates could increase up to 49 percent; (6) 1993 federal participation in transit benefit programs is expected to cost between $8 million and $10 million; (7) many agencies do not participate in transit benefit programs because Congress expects each agency to absorb the costs from their existing budgets; (8) funding options to reauthorize transit benefit programs include funding through existing resources, direct congressional appropriations, and allowing agencies to retain parking fees to fund their participation; and (9) Congress needs to consider establishing a central coordinating authority to provide guidance to agencies participating in transit benefit programs.

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