Frequently Asked Questions

Questions?

For immediate assistance with issues related to your discounted MBTA monthly pass:

Crosby Benefits

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CommuterChoice

Phone Icon(617) 384 RIDE (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 30-35% 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. 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 first day of the month prior to the month of use. For example, order your pass online by midnight on March 1 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 Crosby Benefit Systems so by Friday at 3PM facukty 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. Click the Edit or Delete icon under the Your Pending Order section on the home page. Please note that changes or cancelations are subject to the ordering deadline -  the first day of the month prior to the month of use. For example, cancel your pass online by midnight on March 1 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 Crosby Benefit Systems: 1.800.462.2235 #6 (Monday - Thursday, 8AM – 6PM and Friday, 8AM – 5PM) or email servicecenter@crosbybenefits.com to have a new card sent to you. A new card will be sent to your home within 1-3 business days and your old Charlie Card will be deactivated.

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

Please complete the Non-Received/Incorrect Pass Affidavit. This form must be completed and received at Crosby Benefit Systems no later than the 10th of the month. This form is NOT for lost Commuter Rail, Boat or Private Transit Products, as these items cannot be replaced.

To request reimbursement for 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 cannot be 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 in the vicinity of 30%-35% (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.

Do I qualify for Senior/TAP Pass?

Seniors 65 and older with a valid Senior ID obtained through the MBTA may purchase the monthly MBTA Senior/TAP pass through Harvard’s online ordering system.

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 get a car insurance discount as a regular transit rider?

Many insurance companies offer up to a 10% discount on parts of your auto insurance policy when you submit proof of participation in Harvard’s Transit Program for 11 of 12 months. At “Order History” within the online ordering system, click “Order History Letter” to generate a proof of participation letter. Be sure to contact your insurer regarding eligibility and documentation.

What is the Parking Cash Reimbursement Option?

This option allows benefits eligible faculty and staff to set aside money, up to the IRS limit of $255/month, on a pre-tax basis and be reimbursed for out-of-pocket, work related parking expenses incurred in conjunction with a daily MBTA commute.
Step 1: Elect to have money deducted from your paycheck on a pre-tax basis
Step 2: Submit a claim for your parking expenses either online or by submitting a Parking Reimbursement Request Form to Crosby Benefit Systems within 6 months (180 days) of expense

Where do I place my order (Step 1)?

Go to Harvard's Transit Ordering Platform

  • Login to the system with your Harvard credentials
  • Hover your mouse over Place An Order
  • Click Parking
  • Click on Enroll in Cash Reimbursement
  • Enter the amount per month that you would like to elect. For example a commuter parking at the Alewife Lot in September spends $140 per month (20 work days excluding Labor Day at $7/day = $140) you would enter $140.  Please note: This amount can be adjusted from month to month.
  • Click Yes or No for your choice of recurring options
  • Click the Enroll button
  • Certify that your order is correct
  • Click Purchase

For individuals without Harvard credentials, please email Crosby Benefits or call 800-462-2235#6 for a Paper Purchasing Form.

How do I file a claim (Step 2)?

Claims for your parking expenses can be filed either:

Online or by submitting a Parking Reimbursement Request Form. Please be sure to review form for all instructions.

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 — please see instructions below. 

How do I sign up for direct deposit?

You can sign up to receive your reimbursement via direct deposit:

  • Log into your account
  • Click “Profile” from the menu at the top of the screen
  • Click “Edit: in the Direct Deposit Information section at the bottom of the page
  • Enter your banking information and click submit

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

Can I sign up to submit my order automatically each month?

Yes. You can setup recurring orders by clicking the radial button for Yes next to  the question “Would you like to receive this order for multiple months?” when making your election.  You will not need to return to the ordering platform unless you wish to cancel or make a change

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 1st of the month, approximately 30 days PRIOR to the usage month’s pass. Example:  For changes to or canceling the a June order, changes must be made by 11:59 p.m. on May 31. Otherwise you will be responsible for the order

For individuals without Harvard credentials, the deadline for a paper order form is the 25th of the second month prior to the month of use. For example, submit your paper form by November 25th for a January order.  Please email Crosby Benefits or call 800-462-2235#6; or email CommuterChoice or call 617-384-RIDE (7433) for a Paper Purchasing Form.

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 $250 will be deducted pre-tax. Any amount over $250 will be deducted after tax. For example, a commuter parking at the Alewife Lot in September 2013 spends $140 per month (20 work days excluding Labor Day at $7/day = $140) you would enter $140.  Please note: This amount can be adjusted from month to month

How do I submit for reimbursement?

Claims for your parking expenses can be filed either online or by submitting a claim form within 6 months (180 days) of the expense.  Please be sure to review form for all instructions. 

The parking facility I use doesn’t give receipts. Can I still use this benefit?

Yes, if using a reimbursement form simply initial the form stating a receipt was not available.  If using the online portal clicking submit will verify the accuracy of the claim information.

When will I receive my parking reimbursement?

Reimbursement requests are entered within four business days of receipt and are processed weekly.  Reimbursements will be made by paper check unless you sign up for Direct Deposit. Please see above question for instructions to enrolling in Direct Deposit

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 $250

Is there a deadline for submitting my expenses?

Receipts must be submitted for reimbursement within 6 months (180 days) from the date of the parking expense.  For example, June receipts must be submitted for reimbursement by December

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 by purchasing Commuter Checks on the transit ordering platform. After accessing the system, select MassRIDES Vanpools or vRide – Vanpool from the dropdown menu. 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 Reimbursement Request form to Crosby Benefit Systems along with original or photocopied receipts between January 1 - March 31. Claims will be processed and reimbursements distributed within ten business days. You will only receive notification from Crosby Benefits if there is a problem with your submission.
Any claims submitted prior to the application period will be returned to sender.

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

Participants will also have to provide their HUPD bicycle registration number.