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New BU Benefits for Cyclists, Those Parking in MBTA Lots

Employee incentives designed to reduce traffic congestion, emissions


New BU employee benefits will subsidize those who bike to work or leave their cars in MBTA parking lots.

The bike benefit may be applied to qualifying riders starting with the 2017 calendar year. Employees may begin signing up for the parking benefit on New Year’s Day.

“Offering commuter benefits that reduce the cost of bicycling or mass transit by bus, subway, train, or boat provides regular faculty and staff with different choices that help lessen traffic congestion and emissions,” says Peter Smokowski, vice president for auxiliary services.

Less motor vehicle traffic, he says, also “directly supports the University’s Climate Action Plan,” adopted last week by the BU Board of Trustees to enhance sustainability practices and fortify campus infrastructure against rising temperatures.

In particular, the transit station parking subsidy reinforces the University’s long-standing benefit of providing a monthly MBTA pass to workers who want to pay for it with pretax dollars out of their paychecks, reaping a tax benefit, says Carl Larson, a BU Parking & Transportation Services manager.

The pretax pass, “when combined with the new transit station parking benefit, makes a compelling case for opting to commute on mass transit,” Larson says.

Currently, about 31 percent of faculty and staff commute by mass transit, while 10 percent regularly commute by bike, he says.

More about the new offerings:


You may claim a $20-per-month reimbursement, up to $240 a year, for expenses you incur in qualifying months while cycling to and from work. To qualify in a given month, you must not have a BU-subsidized MBTA pass or a BU-supplied parking permit (unless it’s a red pay-on-entry pass), and you must commute to and from BU more than 50 percent of the month.

Reimbursable expenses include buying a new or used bicycle for your commute; certain bike repairs and maintenance, such as parts, locks, cargo racks, and tune-ups; safety equipment like lights, helmets, and reflectors; and bike storage fees. Not reimbursable are clothing, bike shoes, and bike-sharing membership in programs like Hubway.

Find more information and sign up here.

Transit Station Parking Benefit

Beginning January 1, 2018, employees who get their MBTA pass though the University may set aside pretax dollars from their paycheck to cover up to $260 a month in parking costs at MBTA transit stations.

The parking must be work-related. To enroll in the benefit, sign in after January 1 to your BUworks account, go to the Employee Self-Service tab and its Campus Services section, and click “Apply/Manage MBTA Pass and MBTA Parking Benefits.” You will have to provide your monthly parking cost (up to $260).

Employees who are paid weekly will pay a prorated, weekly amount for the first four weeks of each month. All employees can change the amount they contribute at any time. The money you choose to have withheld, before taxes, from your salary will be credited to your named account to pay for parking. If there’s money left in the account at the end of the year, it will roll over into the next year, so you won’t lose it if you don’t use it.

P&A Group, which runs the program, as well as the University’s Flexible Spending Account (FSA) program, will provide you with a debit card for paying at transit stations—unless you have an FSA card, in which case you will use that. Employees may register for the parking benefit through the P&A site.

The University is also continuing its year-old Guaranteed Ride Home program, which allows employees who do not drive alone to work and need emergency transport from campus as many as six free Uber or Lyft rides per year, including gas, tolls, and gratuities. There are no distance limits under this benefit.

Users may apply the benefit during personal and family illnesses and emergencies, unplanned overtime work, and—for cyclists—if their bike is damaged en route to work and there is no public transit available within 30 minutes. The benefit may not be used during weather and MBTA delays, commuting to work, commuting delays due to construction work, building evacuations, and scheduled events and overtime outside normal business hours.

Each of BU’s two campuses arranges the benefit through a transportation management agency: here for Charles River Campus employees; here for Medical Campus employees.

Rich Barlow

Rich Barlow can be reached at barlowr@bu.edu.

One Comment on New BU Benefits for Cyclists, Those Parking in MBTA Lots

  • Stephanie H. on 12.13.2017 at 2:19 pm

    I’m glad to see BU devoting funds toward rewarding and encouraging students, faculty, and staff to commute to campus sustainably!

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