The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on Thursday advanced legislation that would allow federal employees in the capital region to apply their transit benefits toward ride-sharing services such as Uber.
The bill (H.R. 6008), sponsored by Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., would require agencies to offer employees using ride-sharing networks the same transit benefits as those using public transportation. It was prompted by the Washington Metrorail’s SafeTrack program of extensive systemwide repairs and upgrades. SafeTrack will entail continuous single-tracking on some line segments for several weeks at a time, and will close down other portions of track entirely for as long as 23 days, causing significant disruptions to commuters in Washington, including federal employees.
“During a time when WMATA is getting its house in order, federal commuters have been frustrated at their lack of timely options for getting in to work,” Meadows said in a statement. “My hope is that this bill will allow federal workers to expand their commuting options and not require them to depend on a sole, unreliable form of transportation during WMATA’s time period of construction.”
Meadows originally introduced the bill over the summer, but reintroduced it this week with an extended timeframe for offering the benefit. Employees would now be able to enjoy benefits for ride-sharing services through the end of 2018.
The oversight panel also amended the bill to include transportation network services, as well as car-sharing companies. A transportation network service is defined as an entity “that uses a digital network to connect riders to drivers affiliated with the entity in order for a driver to provide transportation services to a rider.”
The bill has bipartisan support from lawmakers in the Washington area. “The ridesharing economy offers a unique and flexible alternative until full Metro service is restored and should be an option for our federal workforce as they maintain a continuity of operations for the federal government,” said co-sponsor Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., in a statement.