You probably remember the scene from Anchorman when Ron Burgundy is on the phone in the phone booth with Brian Fantana after Baxter is punted off the bridge. Brian asks Ron where he is and Ron responds, “I am in a glass case of emotion.”
I know how you feel Ron Burgundy. I know how you feel.
Except, this is not a funny movie. This is the latest comedic effort from Washington.
Starting January 1st, the federal government’s pretax mass transit expense benefit will fall – again – from $245 to $130 per month. What it means for most NYC mass transit commuters is that you will now be paying at least some of your monthly transit expenses after taxes unless you live in or really, really close to the City (subway, PATH, NJT Bus from Hoboken and others). For me, it means $115 more dollars coming out of my pocket after taxes each month. That’s $1380 per year for me.
It’s an economic stimulus plan if I’ve ever seen one.
This is not the first time it has changed. In ’09 it was $120. Then it was $230. Then it was $125. Then it was $245. Now, we are at $130. Budgeting this way makes as much sense as Brian Fantana’s explanation of ‘Sex Panther’.
There is a similar benefit for people who drive their cars and park. It went UP to $250/month. Nice. It appears the driving commuter lobby has the ear of Congress a bit better than the mass transit commuter lobby.
All that said, I would find it hard to believe riders from the Hudson Valley will be heading back behind the wheel come the New Year because of the change. And, as Congress has done in the past, they could always revise the amount. What I believe it will do is make people like me reassess commuting options and find cheaper ways to get where they need to go. More on that in a future post.