Frequently Asked Questions:
What is the Commuter Benefits Program Commuter Card?
The Commuter Benefits Program offers the Commuter Card Plan. The Commuter Card is a stored value debit card linked to a special Transportation Spending Account, secured by the City’s Transit Benefit provider, WageWorks. Under this option, you can elect to have any pre-tax deduction amount up to $255, the transportation fringe benefit[1*] pre-tax limit per month. Deductions exceeding $255 are allowed, but the amount over $255 will be deducted post-tax. With the Commuter Card, you designate a monthly deduction amount to suit your commuting needs. The Commuter Card is funded each pay day with your transportation deduction.
The Commuter Card is a financial instrument regulated by the United States Department of the Treasury Regulation E. Users of the Commuter Card have all the protections afforded other credit and debit card users under Regulation E. The Commuter Benefits Program - Commuter Card Plan Terms and Conditions outline Commuter Card user rights and responsibilities. Please review them.
[1*] Internal Revenue Code(IRC) section 132(f) sets the monthly limit on qualified transportation fringe benefit. Effective 01/01/16 the transportation fringe benefit pre-tax limit is increased to $255/month.
Where is the Commuter Card accepted?
Your Commuter Card will work at transit provider vending machines and ticket windows throughout the New York metropolitan area including NYCT MetroCard Vending machines, Metro-North Railroad, Long Island Railroad, New Jersey Transit, PATH and many other providers. To see a list of where the Commuter Card will work - visit www.getwageworks.com/nyc. Your Commuter Card can only be used at transit provider vending machines, ticket window and transit provider online stores. Your Commuter Card cannot be used to purchase tickets at other merchants (for example, a grocery store, drug store or newsstand).
Is the Commuter Card the best option for me?
The Commuter Card may be the best option for you if:
- You want to save up to 40% from your monthly transit expenses[2*].
[2*] Up to 40% is illustrative of typical savings. Your actual savings depend on the cost of your transit options, your particular tax situation and the monthly IRS limits. To calculate your estimated savings – visit http://getwageworks.com/nyc/savings for an online Calculator.
- You use Long Island Railroad, Metro-North Railroad, PATH or New Jersey Transit or other transit providers that accept credit cards to purchase fares.
- You use online/web options such as the MTA’s Mail&Ride program or WebTicket program or New Jersey Transit’s Quik-Tik program.
- You use the MTA EasyPayXpress program.
- You use the MTA Reduced-Fare MetroCard.
- You ride on MTA express buses.
- You change transit providers from month to month or week to week.
- You want to buy daily or weekly tickets some times.
- You prefer Pay-Per-Ride MetroCards.
Are there any service fees for this program?
- Commuter Card - No Admin Fee: Under this option, you will have a set deduction amount equivalent to the cost of the MTA NYCT 30-Day Unlimited Ride MetroCard, $116.50 as of 3/22/15, pre-tax per month. You will receive a Commuter Card that can be used to purchase the 30-Day Unlimited Ride MetroCard at NYCT MetroCard vending machines or to enroll in the MTA EasyPayXpress program which supports an unlimited ride MetroCard. You can also purchase any qualified transit pass up to the available balance. The City will pay the administrative fee of $1.77 per month for this plan.
- Commuter Card - Unrestricted: Under this option, you can elect to have any deduction amount up to Federal pre-tax transit limits which is currently set at $255 pre-tax per month[3*]. Deductions exceeding $255 per month are allowed, but the amount over $255 will be deducted post-tax. You will receive a Commuter Card that can be used to purchase qualified transportation media from local and regional carriers’ vending machines, ticket booths or websites such as the Long Island Railroad, Metro-North Rail Road and New Jersey Transit. You will pay an administrative fee of $1.77 per month through payroll deductions.
[3*] Internal Revenue Code (IRC) section 132(f) sets the monthly limit on qualified transportation fringe benefit. Effective 01/01/16 the transportation fringe benefit pre-tax limit is increased to $255/month.
How is my W-2 affected?
Your taxable wages in Box 1, Social Security and Medicare wages in Boxes 3 and 5, and state and local wages in Boxes 16 and 18 will be reduced by the value of the pre-tax Transportation Deductions from your pay.
- For the Commuter Card - No Admin Fee Plan, the amount of the administrative fee paid to WageWorks in your behalf by the City will be shown in Box 14 as a fringe benefit added to your taxable earnings in Boxes 1, 3, 5, 16 and 18 if you have an $116.50 monthly election amount only.
- For the Commuter Card - Unrestricted Plan, the administrative fee will be deducted post-tax from your pay.
How does the program work?
After you enroll in the Commuter Benefits Program, your elected Commuter Card Transportation Deduction Plan amount will be taken from your wages every pay day. You will receive your new stored value Commuter Card in the mail. Upon receipt of your Commuter Card you will activate the card. Your Commuter Card will remain valid for as long as your participation in the program continues. A new Commuter Card is issued every three years.
If I enroll, how will I receive my Commuter Card?
Your Commuter Card will be mailed to you at the address on file with WageWorks, the City’s Provider. Make sure you provide a complete and accurate address so that you will receive your Commuter Card in a timely manner.
Are there any purchasing restrictions?
The provisions of Internal Revenue Code (IRC) Section132(f) do not permit pre-tax earnings set aside for transportation to be used for any other purpose.
How do I use my Commuter Card at transit vending machines?
You use your Commuter Card at a transit provider vending machine in the same manner as you would use a personal credit or debit card. One key thing to remember is to select “Credit” rather than “Debit/ATM” for the type of card. Although the Commuter Card is not a credit card, this is the appropriate option to choose since this card does not require a Personal Identification Number or PIN. The amount of your purchase at the machine is deducted from your Commuter Card balance.
Is the Commuter Card a credit card?
The Commuter Card is a MasterCard® stored value card which works just like a credit card at transit locations. There is no line of credit available, and your personal credit is not affected by use of the card - only the funds you elect to put on the card are available for use.
What happens to the balance on the card at the end of the month?
Any unused balance will remain on your card for future use.
What are the eligible Commuter benefit expenses I can purchase with my Commuter Card?
You can use the Commuter Card to purchase transit fare media for buses, subways, trains and ferries.
What are the ineligible Commuter benefit expenses I cannot purchase with my Commuter Card?
Ineligible expenses include, but are not limited to, gas, tolls and parking.
Why would my Commuter Card be rejected?
Your Commuter Card transaction could be rejected for several reasons:
(1) You are attempting to make a transaction before your payroll deductions have been loaded on your card.
(2) You do not have enough funds in your account to pay for the transaction.
(3) You are trying to purchase from an ineligible merchant.
(4) If you were prompted for a "billing zip code" and you did not enter the zip code on file with WageWorks.
(5) You selected "Debit" instead of "Credit".
(6) There is a temporary network problem that is preventing your card from working. You may want to try another machine or try again later in the day.
Can I use the Commuter Card at an Automated Teller Machine (ATM) or a Check Casher to purchase my pass?
No, you may not use your Commuter Card at an Automated Teller Machine (ATM) or a Check Casher to purchase your pass. Your Commuter Card can only be used at transit provider vending machines and online.
What happens if my Commuter Card is not received or is damaged, lost, or stolen?
As soon as you realize your card has not been received or is damaged, lost, or stolen, contact WageWorks Customer Service at 1-877-WageWorks (1-877-924-3967). Your old Commuter Card will be deactivated within 24 hours after you have spoken with a WageWorks Customer Service Representative. A new Commuter Card will be mailed to you to at the address on file with WageWorks, the City’s Provider.
Can I get a refund when my Commuter Card is Undelivered, Damaged, Lost, or Stolen?
No, there is no need for a refund as your Transportation Deductions will still be available in your account.
Can I get a refund of my Commuter Benefits deductions if the fare media I purchased with my Commuter Card becomes Damaged or is Lost or Stolen?
If the fare media you purchased with your Commuter Card is damaged or is lost or stolen, you should contact your transit provider directly. If a MetroCard you purchased with your Commuter Card becomes damaged or is lost or stolen, you can call 1-718-330-1234, call 511 or go to the MTA’s website www.MTA.info for additional information.
How do I enroll in the Commuter Benefits Program Commuter Card plan?
For City employees to enroll in the Commuter Card Program, go to NYCAPS Employee Self Service at www.nyc.gov/ESS or contact your agency’s TransitBenefit Coordinator. For more information - visit www.nyc.gov/payroll. For a list of City Agency TransitBenefit Coordinators click here.
Department of Education (DoE) employees can enroll at the DoE Web Employee Self Service/Web Payroll application that can be accessed through the internet using your DoE Outlook email id and password at https://payrollportal.nycboe.net. You can also enroll by obtaining an enrollment form from the DoE website at http://schools.nyc.gov. DoE forms are mailed to the Department of Education, 65 Court Street, Room 1003, Brooklyn, NY 11201.
City University of New York (CUNY) Community College employees may download an enrollment form from the CUNY website at www.cuny.edu/transitbenefit or contact your TransitBenefit Coordinator for processing and further information.
What happens if I leave City employment?
If you leave City employment, you have 90 days after your separation date to spend the remaining funds in your Commuter Card.
How can I check my Commuter Card balance?
There are several different options to access your Commuter Card balance with WageWorks:
- By logging on to your account at www.getwageworks.com/nyc.
- Call Customer Service at 1-877-WageWorks (1-877-924-3967) Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and follow the prompts to access your Commuter Card balance. You will be required to provide the last four digits of your Employee Reference Number (ERN) and home zip code to access your balance via the Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system.
- You can also check your Commuter Card balance via their mobile site at m.wageworks.com.
For additional information, contact:
- For questions on your Commuter Card options, contact WageWorks at www.getwageworks.com/nyc or call 1-877-WageWorks (1-877-924-3967) Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.