BILL TO REDUCE BAY AREA POLLUTION AND BOOST PUBLIC TRANSIT HITS HIGH SPEED

Yee’s legislation to benefit workers, employers and the environment clears another hurdle

SACRAMENTO – On a bipartisan 5-1 vote, the Senate Environmental Quality Committee today approved legislation authored by Senator Leland Yee (D-San Francisco/San Mateo) to help reduce San Francisco Bay Area pollution and traffic congestion.

Yee’s SB 1339 would allow the Bay Area Air Quality Management District and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) to adopt a regional commute benefit requirement of medium and large businesses.

Such a policy will ensure that employers (with over 50 workers) help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, congestion, and air pollution by offering employees the option to pay for their public transit, vanpooling, or bicycling expenses with pre-tax dollars, or by offering employees a transit or vanpool subsidy or free shuttle service.

“About 40 percent of transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions result from commuting,” said Yee. “By offering a commute benefit, employers can help encourage their employees to consider alternatives to driving alone.”

“This legislation will be a great benefit for Bay Area employees and help California meet our emission reduction goals,” said Yee. “SB 1339 will significantly reduce workers’ commute costs and will also provide a financial benefit to the employer by reducing payroll taxes.”

“SB 1339 is smart policy,” said Tom Addison of the Bay Area Air Quality Management District. “We need to cut air pollution, greenhouse gases, and congestion. SB 1339 does this, while simultaneously providing real economic benefits.”

“Public transit should be playing a much larger role in helping meet our clean air goals,” said Josh Shaw of the California Transit Association. “SB 1339 creates an incentive for employers and employees by allowing for lower payroll taxes while providing several cost-effective options to help people get out of their car and using public transit.”

“We’ll never have clean air in this state until we make it easier for people who want to take transit or ride a bike to work to do so,” said Kathryn Phillips, Director of Sierra Club California. “This bill is one way to do that. It will give people more commuting options and it will move the Bay Area another step closer to healthy air and lower global warming pollution.”

In addition to the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, MTC, California Transit Association, and the Sierra Club, SB 1339 is supported by the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, San Francisco Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Community Center, American Lung Association, California Air Pollution Control Officers Association, City of Burlingame, City of Millbrae, and the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, among others.

SB 1339 will next be considered by the full Senate.

###

Contact: Adam J. Keigwin,
(916) 651-4008