Executive Vice President John R. Curry has announced a significant increase in the subsidy for students and employees who purchase MBTA commuter passes. He also announced the new parking fees for fiscal year 2001.
To encourage more employees and students to utilize public transportation, MIT has boosted the subsidy for MBTA passes, beginning with the September pass. This means that all at MIT who purchases monthly T-passes will see a drop in the cost of their pass compared to what they paid in 1999-2000.
Last year's subsidy saved each person $10 per month, regardless of which zone they commuted from. In 2000-2001, there will be three tiers in the subsidy program.
Here's how the three tiers will work. MIT will subsidize 62.5 percent of the retail price of a monthly bus pass and 50 percent of the retail price of a monthly subway pass through Zone 2. For Zones 3 and above, the subsidy will be 50 percent of the retail price of a monthly Zone 2 pass. (The Zone 2 monthly pass now retails for $72.)
Based on 1999-00 usage data, the majority of T-pass purchasers at MIT use the subway and "combo" passes, which will be in the second tier, with a 50 percent subsidy in 2000-2001. The percentages of the subsidy will remain the same if the MBTA raises its retail prices.
Effective September 1, the cost for employee regular commuter parking permits will be increased by $30 to $390 per year, and carpool permits will increase by $15 to $195 per year. (It is expected that these fees for the 2001-02 academic year will also increase at about the same rate.) Several fees will stay the same as last year's, including those for an occasional parking permit, evening permit or additional stickers, each of which will continue to cost $25.
Parking rates at other area colleges for the upcoming year are not all available yet. However, MIT's $360 rate for 1999-2000 was significantly less than that at other local schools. For example, Harvard University's parking rates ranged from $390 to $1,500, depending on location; Northeastern charged $425, the University of Massachusetts at Boston charged $660, Boston University charged $811 and Harvard Medical School's rate was $1,383.
The Committee for Transportation and Parking, chaired by Professor of Chemistry Alexander M. Klibanov, recommended the increased T-pass subsidy and the parking fee changes, which were then reviewed by Mr. Curry and Vice President for Human Resources Laura Avakian. Committee members include representatives from Campus Police, the Office of the Dean of Students and Undergraduate Education, the Executive Vice President's Office, the Department of Facilities, Human Resources, the Working Group on Support Staff Issues, and the Parking and Transportation Office. In addition, there are five other faculty members and one graduate student on the committee.
MIT-paid employees can pay for MBTA passes or their parking fee on a pretax, salary reduction basis, up to certain monthly limits. Paying this way results in tax savings, which vary according to each person's tax status. In the last year, more than 86 percent of the people who purchased parking permits did so on a pretax basis. To participate in the T-pass program, employees must have the cost of their pass deducted from their paycheck, so they are automatically paying with pretax dollars.
In 1995, MIT moved from an administrative fee to a parking fee, and the $30 increase for 2000-01 is the third increase since then. Even the new rate does not come close to the actual cost of a parking space at MIT, and the difference is subsidized by the Institute's employee benefits pool. Increasing the subsidy for MBTA passes brings this benefit program more in line with the percentage by which MIT subsidizes parking.
"We all need to remember that we share the streets and roads in Cambridge with citizens and neighbors," said Stephen D. Immerman, director of enterprise services in the Office of the Executive Vice President. "Reducing traffic and associated congestion is a very high priority for the city, and MIT recognizes its responsibility to support that objective. We hope that increasing the T-pass subsidy will encourage even more MIT commuters to take advantage of public transportation alternatives."
The annual parking and T-pass application process will begin in August, when detailed fee schedules will be available from department parking coordinators, the Parking and Transportation Office and through the MIT web site.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on July 12, 2000.