Earlier I linked to a WMATA news release on the changes to how SmarTrip SmartBenefits would be handled and disbursed. When reader Nate commented that he disagreed with me about the significant part of the story I went back to look at the release again… and was surprised that I had misremembered there being a section about how unused benefit deposits were refunded
When I checked another window, however, I discovered I hadn’t misremembered – WMATA had just edited the release and made no note of the change. Both releases state they were issued at 11:52am today. The original section that explains what Nate is talking about was the last bit of the second paragraph and reads as follows:
Any unused benefits will be credited back to the employer at the end of each month. Employees who currently contribute a portion of their pre-taxed salary to through the SmartBenefits® program should contact their employers to determine how that employer will handle any unused portion of their pre-tax contribution.
The new edited release makes some mention of “pre-tax benefits” but excises the word “contribution” entirely. Kinda sleazy.
The other changed sections are after the jump.
Originally the next to last paragraph read as follows:
Metro’s SmartBenefits® program allows employers to electronically administer the transit benefit program and directly load the benefits to their employees’ SmartBenefits® accounts. Federal and other area employers can use the transit benefits on Metrorail and Metrobus, to pay for parking in Metro facilities, on regional bus systems including ART, CUE, DASH, George, Ride On, Fairfax Connector, Loudoun County Transit, PRTC, The Bus and the DC Circulator, and registered van pools. There are 3,839 SmartBenefits® employer accounts and 207,000 SmartBenefits® employee participants with Metro.
Now it says this:
The new application for administering transit and parking benefits limits employee claims to actual usage during the calendar month, instead of pre-claiming the authorized amount in advance of using it and then keeping unused benefits on the card. Metro will continue to credit unclaimed benefits to the employer on a monthly basis. Employers who provide the transit benefit as an employee benefit view this very favorably. Some employers and third party administrators who provide the benefit pre-tax have raised an administrative concern with the new application rules. Metro is holding meetings with the federal and private sector employers and third party administrators to provide an overview of the changes, and will provide assistance and guidance as employers administer their SmartBenefits® program.