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Pre-tax pass purchases could save commuters hundreds

by: Erica Ricci Updated:

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BOSTON - Just three days after public transit commuters were told their T passes will soon cost more, they are now being reminded that they are eligible for hundreds of dollars in monthly benefits.

Leaders estimate that the savings total about $1,400 per year for commuters. 

There had been a similar program in place, but it was only temporary. Congressman Jim McGovern helped make it permanent, and in his opinion, better. 

McGovern said the program works like a flexible spending account - commuters can buy monthly passes using pre-tax dollars through their employer.

The new legislation has raised the cap - it used to be lower than the cost of a monthly pass, so commuters were still paying tax on part of their pass. The extra taxes added up to be $1,400 a year, according to transit leaders.

"What that will do is encourage more people to get out of their cars and into public transit. Secondary benefits are of course it will help ease congestion on the roads, it’s a much calmer ride,” MBTA General Manager Frank DePaola said.

The legislation was made retroactive for 2015, so if commuters weren't aware of it, they can take advantage by talking to their employers about their tax form.