Frequently Asked Questions

Questions?

For assistance with issues related to your transit pass or the bike benefit:

WageWorks

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Access code is the last
four digits of your HUID

CommuterChoice

Phone Icon(617) 384.7433

Frequently Asked Questions

 

Faculty/Staff

With few exceptions, benefits eligible faculty and staff who work 17.5 hours or more and are paid directly by Harvard University are eligible for transportation benefits covering TransitCarpoolVanpoolBike Benefit and Parking. Eligible faculty and staff may utilize one stand-alone benefit at a time. In addition, faculty and staff can sign up for discounted annual memberships with Hubway and Zipcar and may ride the Harvard and M2 Shuttle for free.

Please note that the carpool program for employees located at the Longwood campus is run through MASCO, not CommuterChoice.

Student

Students are eligible for discounted annual memberships with Hubway and Zipcar and may ride the Harvard and M2 Shuttle for free.

Some post-docs paid directly by the University are classified as benefits eligible employees. Please contact commuterchoice@harvard.edu for eligibility questions.

Vendor/Consultant/Contractor

Parking is available for vendors, consultants and contractors. For all other transportation benefits  please check with your employer. Vendors, consultants and contractors do not qualify for discounted carpool parking.

What is the transit benefit?

Benefits eligible faculty and staff can purchase MBTA monthly passes on a pre-tax basis and for a 50% discount.  Private Transit Products (i.e. Greyhound, Amtrak, regional bus carriers, etc.) and parking costs can be purchased on a pre-tax basis.  Depending on your tax bracket and withholdings, savings can reach 30-40% off.

How do faculty and staff order transit products?

Benefits eligible faculty and staff with a Harvard ID and PIN can order transit products via the online ordering platform or over the phone by calling 1.877.924.3967. By doing so, employees authorize Harvard to payroll deduct their portion of the cost of the order.

What are the ordering deadlines?

The ordering deadline is the fourth day of the month prior to the month of use. For example, order your pass online by midnight on March 4th for April usage. Because of the automated nature of the process there is no way to circumvent such deadlines.

As a new employee, when should I order my pass and when can I expect my first transit products?

New faculty and staff should allow 5-9 weeks from the start of their employment to receive their first transit product. To expedite the process, log into the online ordering platform as soon as possible. Faculty and staff hired through ASPIRE automatically enter the payroll system as an “ineligible” pay category. The transition to a “paid” pay category normally occurs with receipt of your first paycheck. If you receive an error message at your initial login, this switch probably has not occurred. Every Thursday evening Harvard sends an eligibility file to Wage Works so by Friday at 3PM faculty and staff should try to login and place the order. If unsuccessful, continue to try on consecutive Friday afternoons and again until midnight of the first of the month, as Harvard also sends an eligibility file on the last day of each month.

How do I change or cancel my transit order?

Visit the online ordering platform and  click the MODIFY OR CANCEL ORDER button. Please note that changes or cancelations are subject to the ordering deadline -  the fourth day of the month prior to the month of use. For example, cancel your pass online by midnight on March 4th for the April benefit month. Because of the automated nature of the process there is no way to circumvent such deadlines.

May I purchase a transit product and an annual Parking Permit?

No. Harvard does not allow faculty and staff to purchase transit products (i.e. a subsidized MBTA monthly pass and/or private transit products) and an annual parking permit. However, such products may be purchased in conjunction with an EVENING COMMUTER permit, a MOTORCYCLE permit, or DAILY permits.

How do I change my benefit from parking to MBTA/Transit?

Plan early (8 to 9 weeks in advance) and email commuterchoice@harvard.edu or call 617.384.7433, so we can walk you through the process and discuss timing and deadlines. The first step is to return your permit hang tag to the Campus Service Center located on the 8th floor of the Smith Campus Center (1350 Massachusetts Avenue). Please note that this process must also be followed for parking permit holders who let their permit expire at the end of the fiscal year.

What happens if my MBTA pass or other transit product is not received, defective or lost?

Non-received, defective, lost, or stolen Local Bus or Link Pass Charlie Card?

Call Wage Works: 1.877.924.3967 to have a new card sent to you. A new card will be sent to your home within 2-4 business days and your old Charlie Card will be deactivated. Lost or stolen cards will incur a $5 fee which will be withdrawn post-tax from the following month's paycheck.

Non-received or defective Commuter Rail, Boat or Private Transit Product?

Call Wage Works customer service within the first three business days of the month: 1.877.924.3967. Employees will only be reimbursed for these costs once in every twelve month period.

To request reimbursement for bus and subway commuting expenses incurred because a product was not received or defective:

Please submit a written request by emailing commuterchoice@harvard.edu. When submitting requests, receipts are necessary and can be mailed to CommuterChoice, 1350 Massachusetts Avenue, Smith Campus Center, Room 837. Cambridge, MA 02138 or scanned and emailed to commuterchoice@harvard.edu. Please be sure to also include: your full name, the first four digits of your Harvard ID, a contact phone number and whether your paycheck is direct deposited. Harvard is not responsible for lost or stolen transit products thus will not reimburse for out of pocket expenses. Out of pocket expenses are limited to the cost of one round trip fare per workday for a maximum of three workdays. Personal trips and weekend trips (unless work related) will not be reimbursed.

How do I update my home address?

The online ordering system uses the current address on file in PeopleSoft. Please allow one week for the updates to be reflected on the online ordering system. If you select an International address, you will automatically be disqualified from the transportation benefit system.

How and when do I pay for my Transit Products?

You must pay via pre-tax payroll deduction, which offers additional savings on your transit products between 30%-40% (in addition to your 50% Harvard subsidy on MBTA monthly passes). Pre-tax savings will vary depending upon your tax bracket and withholdings and therefore will be reflected in your pay stub. Your pay stub will show the cost of your pass, including: Harvard’s subsidy to the MBTA monthly pass (TRANSNTB); Employee’s Pre-tax Contribution (TRANSBT); Employee’s Post-tax Contribution (TRANSAT).

Deductions are taken from paychecks the month prior to use. Faculty and staff paid weekly will see deductions taken in the third check of the month and employees paid bi-weekly will see deductions taken in the second check of the month. If a single paycheck doesn’t cover the full amount of the pass, the remainder is deducted in subsequent paychecks.

Persons with disabilities having a valid TAP (Transportation Access Pass) ID may purchase the monthly MBTA Senior/TAP pass through Harvard’s online ordering system.

How do I provide documention of transit commuting history to recieve a car insurance discount?

Participants in the transit system can log in to the Wage Works platform and click "Claims & Activity" followed by "Download Transactions."

 

What is the Pre-Tax Parking Program

This program allows benefits eligible faculty and staff to pay for parking with pre-tax dollars as part of your daily transit commute up to the IRS limit of $255/month.

How do I enroll in the program?

There are three ways to use the program:

  • Pay My Provider: Arrange for your parking provider to be paid directly from your account.
  • Pay Me Back: Have funds deposited directly into your bank account or a check mailed to reimburse you for eligible parking expenses you've already paid.
  • Pay By Debit Card: Use a WageWorks Commuter Parking Card to pay for eligible parking expenses directly from your account.

To enroll log in to the Transit Ordering Platform. Click the "Place Your Order" button under Commuter Account and sign up.

How will I receive my Parking Reimbursement after I file a claim?

A check will be sent to you at the address you list in PeopleSoft. If you prefer, you can sign up to receive the reimbursement by direct deposit.

What are qualified parking expenses?

Qualified parking expenses are the costs of parking incurred in combination with a daily MBTA commute. For example, someone who parks at a Commuter Rail station before boarding a train or at a lot/garage near an MBTA station. Please note: The lot/garage does NOT need to be owned/affiliated by the MBTA

What are the monthly pre-tax limits?

The monthly pre-tax limit is $255. These limits are set by the federal government and are subject to change annually.

Who is eligible for this benefit?

This benefit is available to all benefits eligible faculty and staff who do not have an annual Harvard University parking permit. 

How often can I change my order?

Employees may make changes as often as month-by-month. For example, you may wish to decrease your contribution as part of your planning for vacation

How do I cancel my order?

Should you wish to cancel your pending order, you must login to the ordering platform and delete the appropriate pending order by the appropriate deadline.  Please see below for deadlines

When is the deadline for changes or canceling an order?

You must complete all changes online by the 4th of the month, approximately 30 days PRIOR to the usage month’s pass. Example:  For changes to or to cancel a June order, changes must be made by 11:59 p.m. on May 4th.

How much can I set aside and how will it be deducted?

You can set aside enough to cover the parking expenses for a subsequent month.  Any amount up to $255 will be deducted pre-tax.

What happens if my parking account contributions are less than the amount of a month’s expenses?

Excess parking expenses would carry over to the next month.  If next month’s expenses are less or if your deductions increase, you would be reimbursed that next month, up to the IRS monthly limit of $255

Is there a deadline for submitting my expenses?

Receipts must be submitted for reimbursement within 180 days from the date of the parking expense.

What if I move or change my address?

You must update this information via the Harvard University PeopleSoft system.

What happens if I leave Harvard University?

If you participate in the program, terminate employment for whatever reason, and have a balance in excess of expenses incurred during active employment, the balance will be forfeited. You will have six months following the month of termination to submit a claim with dates of service during your participation in the program.

What is the Carpool Program?

Benefits eligible Harvard employees who carpool to the Cambridge or Allston/Brighton campuses at least four days per week are eligible for on-campus parking in unreserved garages and lots at a reduced rate of 50% off for a two person carpool and 75% off for a three or more person carpool.

Please note that the carpool program for employees located the Longwood campus is run through MASCO, not the CommuterChoice office.

What is the Vanpool Program?

Vanpool parking fees are fully subsidized by the University for Harvard lots and participating employees receive 50% off the cost of their vanpool on a pre-tax basis. In order to recieve a 50% subsidy, you must first email CommuterChoice or call 617.384.RIDE (7433).

How can I find a carpool or vanpool to join?

Utilize Zimride or NuRide, two online ride matching databases to find carpools or vanpools in your area. 

What is the Bicycle Benefit Program?

The bicycle benefit allows benefits eligible faculty and staff bicycle commuters to be reimbursed for $20/month at a maximum of $240/year for the costs associated with bicycle purchase, improvement, repair and storage.

What is eligible for reimbursement?

Bicycle commuters are eligible for tax-free reimbursement of up to $20/month at a maximum of $240/year for the costs associated with bicycle purchase, improvement, repair and storage. Purchases such as bicycle apparel, clothing, safety gear, or Hubway memberships are not eligible at this time. For eligibility questions email: commuterchoice@harvard.edu

Am I eligible if I just bike for some months out of the year?

Yes. A qualified bicycle commuting month is one during which a benefits eligible employee does not also receive a University subsidized monthly MBTA transit pass or a University annual parking permit.

What happens if I leave the University?

You will still be eligible for the benefit for any months during the year you were employed. Simply apply for reimbursement between January 1 – March 31 and a check will be sent to an address of your choice.

What are the deadlines for reimbursement?

Submit a completed Bicycle Expense Claim Form via email: bicycles@wageworks.com or fax: 232.512.2707 along with original or photocopied receipts between January 1 - March 31. Claims will be processed and reimbursements distributed within one month.

What documentation is needed?

For all expenses, attach bills or evidence of charges that clearly state all of the following:

  • Name of service provider
  • Nature of service or supplies
  • Amount of reimbursable expense under the plan
  • Date(s) of service