Employer-subsidized commuter tickets more popular than company cars in the HSL area

The popularity of employer-subsidized commuter tickets is steadily growing in the HSL area. According to HSL statistics and the records of the Tax Administration, some 65,000 people used an employer-subsidized commuter ticket in 2012, an increase of 10 per cent from 2011. In 2008, some 34,000 people used the ticket.

At the moment, over 1,300 employers are offering the benefit to their employees. The number of companies using employer-subsidized season tickets invoiced once a month has increased by over 10 per cent in a year while the number of companies using commuter vouchers has tripled during the past three years.

Nationally, 80 per cent of the users of employer-subsidized commuter tickets travel on the HSL area public transport. In the HSL area, the tickets are already more popular than company cars used by some 36,000 people last year.

Employer-subsidized commuter ticket encourages the use public transport

According to a recent study conducted by HSL, users of employer-subsidized commuter tickets are content with the system and the ticket has clearly affected their travel habits. Prior to starting to use employer-subsidized commuter tickets, 11 per cent of the survey respondents traveled daily by car while 61 per cent traveled by public transport. After starting to use the ticket, 72 per cent travelled by public transport and only six per cent continued to travel by car.

Employer-subsidized commuter ticket is a substantial benefit to the user. Employer-subsidized commuter tickets are a tax-free fringe benefit up to EUR 300. This applies to both season tickets and value loaded on personal Travel Cards.  

The ticket is economic also for the employer as the expenses incurred by the purchase of the tickets can be deducted in the company’s taxes in full.

Commuter vouchers are particularly suitable for large employers with high turnover of employees and high number of short-term employees. The large municipal employers in the metropolitan area are the biggest users of commuter vouchers but during the past year, also large private employers have started to purchase the vouchers more than before.

Taxation needs overhaul

The 2012 Report on Transport Policy by the Ministry of Transport and Communications states that the use of employer-subsidized commuter tickets should be promoted by revising taxation because the taxation of the tickets is still unnecessarily complicated.

HSL supports the proposal as more straightforward taxation would make the ticket more attractive and subsequently increase the use of public transport in particular in the large urban regions.