I bike to work most of the time, but wonder if I can get a discount for doing so, much like my co-workers who get a subsidized train pass from SEPTA. Does Penn have a program for those of us who bike to campus?
More and more people like yourself are biking to work every day. According to recent data from The League of American Bicyclists, the growth of bike commuting in Philadelphia has risen a whopping 155.4 percent between 2000 and 2015.
Penn recognizes this increased interest in biking to work and wants to support those who commute this way. It has undertaken a number of initiatives to support cyclists, such as adding bike parking and repair stations, and making infrastructure improvements to improve safety. The newest effort, starting in January 2017, is the Bike Commuter Expense Reimbursement Program that will offer bicycle commuting expenses to qualified faculty and staff for any out-of-pocket eligible expenses up to $240 annually. This is not a flexible spending account where money is set aside from pre-tax pay by the individual program participant; instead, reimbursement comes directly from the University.
Under Penn’s new program, the University will reimburse bike purchases; maintenance, improvements, and bike accessories; parking and commercial storage costs; and safety gear. Purchases such as membership fees, clothing, and apparel are not considered allowable expenses.
To participate in the Bike Commuter Expense Reimbursement Program, people must be full-time benefits-eligible faculty or staff, commute by bicycle to and from Penn more than 50 percent of the time in a qualified bike commuting month, and pre-register their bike with the Division of Public Safety. Cyclists may also not participate in any other commuter transit or parking programs through Penn in the same months they claim reimbursement.
The first year of the program officially kicks off on Jan. 1, 2017, and extends until the end of the tax year. Claims from the 2017 tax year may be submitted from Jan. 1 until Feb. 28, 2018. Bike commuters are encouraged to access Concur, the University’s expense management system, throughout the 2017 tax year to upload receipts of eligible expenses to a draft expense report.
Penn Transportation and Parking will also be hosting open houses starting in December to provide an overview of the bike commuter program. Dates will be posted on www.upenn.edu/biking.