Alaska Airlines Removes $ 60 Monthly Subsidy For Employee Transit Passes

Alaska Airlines said it would continue to encourage employees to take advantage of a federal law that allows them to use pre-tax dollars to pay for transit access.

Alaska Airlines will eliminate a $ 60 monthly subsidy it has long given to employees to purchase transit passes for their trips.

The change, which came into effect on January 1, is essentially a pay cut for employees who commute to work by public transit. In the Seattle area, it’s also a shift that goes against a growing trend for employers to encourage their employees not to drive alone to get to work, in order to tackle stuffy traffic jams.

About 8% of Alaska’s workforce nationwide used the grant and the company spent about $ 1.2 million per year on it, said Ann Johnson, a spokesperson for Alaska. In the Seattle area, 435 employees first used the benefit offered in 2011, Johnson said.

Alaska has approximately 7,700 employees based in Washington State.

Johnson called the reduction in benefits a break, not a permanent stop. She said the company was working on “a more comprehensive transportation benefit” but offered no details or timelines.

She said the company would continue to encourage its employees to take advantage of a federal law that allows them to use pre-tax dollars to pay for transit access.

“We looked at the program and found that the benefit was really not working as intended,” Johnson said. “We are committed to finding useful and economical ways to provide alternative transportation options. “

A long-standing state law requires Washington metropolitan areas to pass plans to reduce the number of commutes made by employees to large workplaces.

Companies with more than 100 employees must respond to surveys on how their employees get to work and must make a “good faith effort” to reduce car trips alone by doing things like subsidizing ORCA cards, providing bicycle facilities and facilitate carpools and collective vans.

About 85 percent of Alaska Airlines employees in its SeaTac offices and operations drive to work alone, according to the company’s most recent survey. Across SeaTac, approximately 73% of employees in large companies drive to work alone.

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