In assembling a competitive compensation package, HR professionals are continuously challenged to identify attractive, cost-efficient benefits. In late 2015, Congress helped with just that when they passed legislation that increased the IRS-approved, pre-tax transit benefit to a maximum of $255 per employee per month, up from $130 per month last year.

In the greater Chicagoland area, CTA and Pace commuter costs will be fully covered with a pre-tax transit benefit. The higher monthly benefit will also cover monthly Metra passes for all but the two furthest fare zones. That is, provided their employers offer a qualified plan.

Plans cover W4 employees who effectually fund their own benefit via income tax savings on their set-aside, with a few exceptions. These savings may cover up to 40 percent of employee transit costs, and can benefit employers through payroll tax savings as well.

To calculate savings on individual benefits or employers’ savings, click here.  

Large Central Business District employers have traditionally been most likely to offer plans, but participation is growing among small and mid-size businesses in the suburban market, as revealed by Metra passenger surveys. The most recent survey, taken in 2014, revealed that overall participation increased by two percent from 2011, and participation within companies outside of the Central Business District increased by four percent. 

“Participating in a transit benefit program is like getting three monthly passes for free each year,” says Metra CEO/Executive Director Don Orseno. “We’re speaking to our customers directly via email, passenger notices and more, and we’re reaching out directly to companies as well as through business organizations, most notably the Chicagoland Chamber.”

Today, transit benefit plans offer an attractive perk for companies of all sizes. To investigate various plan options, visit