Private Transportation Largess Revealed

Mmmm … parking.

Photo by Oliver Berg/AFP/Getty Images

For reasons that are not entirely clear to me, Silicon Valley firms providing cushy corporate buses to ferry workers from San Francisco to their offices has become a potent symbol of inequality in America. Meanwhile, in the San Francisco metropolitan area, driving alone in a car remains a more popular commuting option than mass transit of any sort.

Indeed, driving alone is more popular than transit in every American metropolitan area outside of New York and Washington.

And all across America, companies are providing their car-driving employees with subsidized transportation in the form of parking. Either the company owns or leases the parking lot or parking structure outright and makes it available for employee use, or the company pays for employees to get free or discounted parking at a commercially operated garage. This kind of parking benefit is even subsidized by the federal tax code, which allows a parking subsidy to not be counted as income. Indeed, it’s the tax deductibility of subsidized parking that help explain why it’s such a ubiquitous perk.