The Mass Transportation Benefit Program was established in October 2000 and is offered to eligible employees and military service members, to the extent authorized by law and regulation, to reduce pollution and traffic congestion, preserve the environment, and expand transportation alternatives.
Under this program, participating employees in the National Capital Region (NCR) receive "transit passes" in amounts equal to their personal commuting costs, not to exceed $255 per month (parking costs not included). To receive this benefit, employees must relinquish any federally subsidized parking permit, and may not be listed as part of a DoD carpool for purposes of qualifying for a parking pass.
Select from the following links to process your benefits:
provider does not use SmarTrip® card readers.
In order to participate in the Mass Transportation Benefit Program (MTBP), an applicant must meet the following two criteria:
- Be a civilian, military, or non-appropriated fund (NAF) employee who is paid and employed by the Department of Defense (DoD)
- Be permanently stationed and working in the National Capital Region (NCR). The NCR is defined as the District of Columbia; Montgomery, Prince George's, and Frederick Counties in Maryland; Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun, and Prince William Counties in Virginia
National Security Agency (NSA) employees seeking information should contact their supervisor concerning agency-specific enrollment guidelines
Who is Eligible?
- Interns paid directly by the DoD (interns hired through contractual agreements are not eligible). Eligible paid interns hired for the summer months MUST reflect their dates of employment on the web-based application. If a paper application is used, dates of employment must be listed on the second page and "summer hire" should be written at the top of the application. Unpaid interns are not eligible to receive transportation benefits
- Members of the Reserve Components who are performing active duty for more than 30 consecutive days. Reservists on active duty less than 30 days are eligible to receive transit benefits, but are not able to apply for those benefits through this program. Those individuals are required to apply through their local command. Please see Enclosure 4 of the DoD Instruction 1000.27 for the specific policy
- IPAs who are appointed to a federal position and are placed on the rolls of DoD as an employee. Attaining the status of an "employee" means the person must be paid at the rate attributable to the grade of his federal position.
Who is Not Eligible?
- Personnel with a federally subsidized parking permit
- Personnel that are on Temporary Duty (TDY) to the NCR from another area
- Personnel that are on detail to the NCR from an area outside the NCR
- Inactive reserve personnel
- Unpaid interns
- Foreign Exchange employees
- DoD Employees working outside the NCR (i.e. Fort Meade). Employees working outside the NCR must apply through their Component's MTBP
- IPAs who are detailed to DoD by the sending employer. Such persons are not appointed to a federal position and are not on the government's rolls for payroll purposes.
Reduced Fare Programs
Many transit authorities and/or providers offer reduced fare programs for senior citizens and persons with disabilities. Typically fares are discounted 50% off the regular fare.
Participants who qualify must enroll in the reduced fare program, if offered by their mode of transit, and use the reduced fare pricing when certifying their commuting expenses on the DoD NCR mass transit benefit application.
This initiative is intended to save taxpayers’ money and was the winner of The President's SAVE Award 2012.
Links to Major Providers
- WMATA/Metro Rail and Bus
Metro offers discounted rates for Senior or Disabled riders. A special SmarTrip card must to obtained in order to receive the discounted rate. Eligibility requirements and instructions are detailed at the following links.
- CommuterDirect Users — VRE, MARC, MTA Commuter Bus (Dillion, Eyre, Keller)
CommuterDirect sells Discount Fare passes for Senior or Disabled riders. Eligibility requirements and instructions are detailed at the following link.
All others, please check with your specific transportation provider.
Ethics Awareness Briefing
Applicants and participants are required to take a brief ethics training. When applying for and claiming the benefit, participants in the program must certify and attest to program criteria. The training informs applicants/participants of important ethical conduct and legal implications associated with using the benefit.
When applying for the benefit, each certification includes several certification statements. By signing, you will be formally and legally attesting that the statements made in the application are true. For example:
I certify that I understand that:
- I am employed by the US Department of Defense and am not named on a Federally subsidized workplace parking permit with DoD or any other Federal Agency. If applicable, I have relinquished my workplace parking permit to the issuing authority.
This means that you do not have federally subsidized parking, are not assigned a federally subsidized parking space, you possess a parking pass nor are you listed on any federal parking pass or roster.
- My claim for benefits is as a Federal employee or military service member.
This means that you are directly employed by the DoD (and receive your pay directly from the DoD) or are an Active Duty military service member, including Reservists and National Guard Members who are on active duty for more than 30 days. Part-time Federal employees, paid interns, non-appropriated fund (NAF) employees employed by a duly constituted NAFI are also eligible.
- I am eligible for a public transportation fare benefit, will use it only for my daily commute to and from work, will not transfer it to anyone else, and will not allow anyone else to use it.
This means that you are qualified to receive the transportation fare benefit, you use a qualified means of transportation to commute to/from work and you will not give or sell your benefit to anyone for any other purpose.
- The monthly transportation benefit I am claiming does not exceed my monthly commuting costs.
This means that you will not claim more in fare benefit than what it actually costs you for your commuting to/from work. Costs should be calculated based on actual days commuted, taking into consideration telecommuting, alternate work schedules and compressed work schedules.
- I will adjust the amount received based upon long term TDY or leave.
This means that if you are away for an extended period, in which you are not commuting and incurring costs, that you will not claim benefits. Benefit funds cannot be used to “hold” or “reserve” seats (e.g. on a vanpool) while you are on extended absence.
- Upon separation from DoD, I will return unused fare media to the MTB Office. If I have converted the fare media to another form of media, I will reimburse the DoD by check or money order payable to the U.S. Treasury.
This means that you are responsible for returning unused benefits or for providing repayment to the DoD for periods during which you are not eligible to participate.
- I will notify the MTB office of any changes in my status, i.e. home or work address, change in commuting pattern or change in organization even if within the DoD.
This means that you are responsible for notifying the MTBP of any changes that affect your home/work address, commuting costs or change in employing organization.
- Costs I will NOT include parking costs in my commuting expense calculation.
This means that you will not include costs incurred for parking when determining your monthly commuting costs. The benefit is intended to solely cover your use of mass transportation.
- I am not a vanpool owner/driver of my own for profit vanpool. If I am a driver and receive a reduced fee, I will adjust my claim for benefits accordingly. If I am a driver and receive compensation, I may not participate in the program.
Vanpool owners who commute in their own (or their own company’s) vanpool may not receive the benefit. Furthermore, if you are a driver of a vanpool owned by another person or company and receive full compensation for driving, you may not participate in the program. Finally, if you are a driver of a vanpool owned by another person or company and pay a reduced fee to the vanpool owner, you may not receive more benefit than your actual cost.
- The mode of transportation for which I am claiming the mass transportation benefit is a qualified means of transportation.
Qualified means of transportation (QMOT) are commercial or public transportation operated for use by the general public and/or modes of transportation that meet the requirements of section 1.132-9 of title 26 of the Code of Federal Regulations (C.F.R.). For a listing of NCR transit providers ,which includes a representative list of QMOTS, please visit the Qualified Means of Transportation page.
Waste, Fraud, and Abuse
Employees who misuse the transportation benefit will be subject to criminal prosecution, and/or agency disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal. Substantiated violations of any of these certifications may impact an employee’s security clearance status.
Please report any fraudulent activity using the following contact information:
Do you have a new SmarTrip card that you would like linked to your mass transit benefits? Lose or break your SmarTrip card? Please follow these instructions:
Step 1 — Acquire Card
Get a new card. SmarTrip® cards can be purchased at Metro stations with parking facilities, Commuter Stores, CVS stores, online, or at over 400 retail locations across the region. Please visit WMATA Sales Locations for a full listing.
Step 2 — Register Card
Log In to Your Account on the WMATA (Metro) website to register your new card and verify the name attached to the card matches your CAC name in your Participant Status. You can also add money to your personal "purse" after logging in.
Note: The MTBP Office does not have access to your WMATA login credentials. If you have trouble logging into or accessing your SmarTrip® online account to register your new card, please call WMATA(Metro) at 888-762-7874 for assistance.
Step 3 — Link Card
Link the new card to your benefits in your Participant Status. Click "Link SmarTrip® Card." You will receive an email confirmation from the MTBP office when your benefits have been reassigned to your new card. This process may take a few days to confirm. Please be advised that it can take 3-5 calendar days for transferred benefits to appear on the new card after the reassignment has been initiated.
Step 4 — Allocate Benefits
If you use CommuterDirect for MARC/VRE or a WMATA allocation account for vanpools, MTA commuter buses, etc., you will need to update your CommuterDirect or WMATA allocation account with the new card number as well.
- What is the DoD NCR Mass Transit Benefit Program (MTBP)?
The MTBP is an employer-provided mass transportation fare subsidy that is offered to eligible employees who use mass transportation for their commute to and from work. Employers assign the dollar value of their monthly commuting benefit directly to the employees' registered SmarTrip® cards.
- How did the DoD Mass Transit Benefit originate?
Executive Order 13150, "Federal Workforce Transportation" requires Federal agencies to provide employee incentives to use mass transit to and from work.
- Who is eligible to receive mass transit benefits?
To be eligible for the Mass Transportation Benefit Program (MTBP) you must be:
- A civilian, military, or NAF employee paid and employed by DoD
- Permanently stationed and working in the National Capital Region (NCR)
The following types of employees are eligible to receive the subsidy:
- Interns/Students employed and paid directly by DoD (i.e. interns/students hired through contractual agreements are not eligible)
- Eligible paid interns/students hired for the summer months MUST reflect their dates of employment on the web-based application. If a paper application is completed, dates of employment must be listed on the second page and "summer hire" should be written at the top of the application. Unpaid interns are not eligible to receive transportation benefits
- Members of Reserve Components who are performing active duty for more than 30 consecutive days are eligible to apply through this program. Reservists on Active Duty less than 30 days are eligible to receive transit benefits, but are not able to apply for those benefits through this program. Those individuals are required to apply through their local command. View DoD Instruction 1000.27 Enclosure 4 for the specific policy
The following types of employees are not eligible to receive the subsidy:
- Personnel that are TDY to the NCR from another area
- Personnel that are on detail to the NCR from an area outside the NCR
- Inactive Reserve personnel
- Unpaid interns
- Intergovernmental Personnel Act (IPA) employees (unless appointed to DoD). For more information see IPA Eligibility
- Foreign Exchange employees
- Personnel who possess a parking permit
- Do I have to turn in my parking permit in order to receive transit benefits?
Yes, if your agency provides you with free parking, parking at a reduced rate, or any other form of subsidized parking. Employees may not receive a parking pass and transit benefits at the same time. Your local parking office may grant exceptions on a daily basis. MTBP participants may receive up to 5 days of parking per month for personal or work related reasons, if needed.
- Are vanpool riders authorized to receive transit benefits?
Yes, if the vanpool is registered with WMATA (Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority – a.k.a. Metro), DoD employees riding in the vanpool may have their benefits electronically allocated to their vanpool operator's account. Please note that vanpool owner/operators are NOT eligible to receive benefits.
- If I'm on TDY or in Long Term Training (LTT) am I eligible to receive mass transportation benefits at the TDY/LTT location?
No. Personnel in a TDY or LTT status are not eligible to receive mass transportation benefits under the Mass Transit Fringe Benefit Program. Personnel in a TDY or LTT status may be reimbursed for travel to/from the temporary duty location, if authorized on their orders, by filing a travel voucher.
- How do I apply to receive transit benefits?
MTBP applications can be found online. View the Apply for MTBP Benefits page for more information.
- What if I do not have a CAC card, and will not be issued one? Can I still join the MTBP?
Yes. There are some cases where DoD NCR employees who will not be issued a CAC card or work at a facility where they do not have access to a CAC enabled computer on the DoD network.
These participants' continued eligibility will be verified by the employee's DoD component MTBP reviewing official. The DoD NCR MTBP office will provide each organization with a monthly listing of non-CAC participants to certify they are currently employed and eligible. Benefits will be made available on SmarTrip® cards until the component instructs the MTBP office otherwise.
*Important note: The paper application cannot be used by employees waiting for their CAC to be issued. This process is strictly reserved for DoD employees that will not be issued a CAC or work at a facility that does not have access to the DoD CAC enabled network.
- How do I check to see if my application has been approved and processed?
Please note that all email queries are answered within 5 business days.
- What is a WMATA SmarTrip® Card?
A SmarTrip® card is a permanent, rechargeable farecard. It's plastic, like a credit card, and is embedded with a special computer chip that keeps track of the value of the card.
Using a SmarTrip® card is fast and easy. Instead of inserting a farecard through the Metrorail faregate slot, you simply touch the SmarTrip® card to the circular targets on top of or inside station faregates. Likewise, you can tap the SmarTrip® farebox on Metrobus to pay your fare with SmarTrip®.
SmarTrip® cards can be used directly on the following modes of transit:
- Metro Train/Metro Bus
- DC Circulator
- PRTC - OmniRide
- ART (Arlington Transit)
- DASH (Alexandria Transit Company)
- CUE Bus System
- FAIRFAX Connector
- Loudoun Commuter Bus
- Montgomery County Ride On
- REX (Richmond Highway Express)
SmarTrip® cards cannot be used directly on the following modes of transit. You must use a transit benefit allocation or CommuterDirect.com for service on the following transit providers (further details can be found below in question 11):
- National Coach Works/ MARTZ
- Metro Access
- Dillon Bus
- Keller Bus
- EYRE Bus
- Other transit companies that partner with WMATA
- Where can I get a SmarTrip® card?
SmarTrip® cards can be purchased at Metrorail stations with parking facilities, Commuter Stores, CVS stores, online, or at over 400 retail locations across the National Capital Region. Please view the Sales Locations page for a full listing.
If you already own a SmarTrip® card, you will need to register it correctly with WMATA in order for DoD MTBP to be able to make your transit benefit available on your card (see question 13 below for more details).
- Do I have to buy a card if I ride in a vanpool, MARC, VRE?
Yes, the card is the mechanism that enables DoD NCR MTBP to establish your transit benefit account. For these modes of transit you must use either CommuterDirect.com (VRE & MARC) or WMATA's allocation system (vanpools, commuter buses and all other non-SmarTrip® enabled modes of transit). A full listing is provided in question 12 below.
After establishing an account with either CommuterDirect or WMATA, on the first of every month you qualify for the program, your monthly benefit will be transferred from your SmarTrip® Transit Benefit purse and sent to your 3rd party provider for payment. Benefits cannot be delivered through other means. You must have a registered SmarTrip® card in order to participate in the DOD NCR MTBP.
- What is my CAC name and how do I register my SmarTrip® card with WMATA?
Your Common Access Card (CAC) name is the exact spelling of your first and last name as imprinted digitally on your CAC.
In most cases, this spelling matches the visible spelling on the front of your physical CAC card. In rare cases, the spelling on the front of your physical CAC may be shortened or displays a hyphenated name that is not on the digital imprint.
To verify the digital imprint of your CAC name, visit the MTBP Participant Status Page.
Your CAC name is listed under "Enrollment Status" as last name, first name.
* If your first or last name is more than 15 characters long, please use the first 15 characters from your CAC name to register your SmarTrip® card with WMATA. WMATA's website has a limit of 15 characters to input a name.
To register your SmarTrip® card using your CAC name, visit the WMATA registration page.
Note: The MTBP Office does not have access to your WMATA login credentials. If you have trouble logging into or accessing your SmarTrip® online account to register your new card, please call WMATA(Metro) at 888-762-7874, Monday - Friday, 7 a.m. - 8 p.m. You can also e-mail them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Are my personal funds separated from my transit benefits on the same card?
Yes. SmarTrip® cards linked to a transit benefit account store funds in two separate "purses:"
- Transit Benefit Purse: The transit benefit purse is loaded on the first of the month by funds made available by DoD. It will hold as much as your certified monthly commuting cost (not to exceed $130). Funds from this purse are spent first, before personal funds, when commuting until the entire benefit allotment has been depleted. Any unused funds do not rollover at the end of the month. These funds cannot be used for parking expenses (compliant with IRS regulations). Funds cannot be transferred into the personal stored value purse. You may view the balance at faregate, farebox, or online through a SmarTrip® online account.
- Personal Stored Value Purse: The personal stored value purse contains your personal funds for parking or transit and holds up to $300. Funds may be added at Metrostation kiosks. Funds on this purse do roll over from month to month. You may view the balance at farecard & pass machines, parking lot SmarTrip® targets, faregates (only after you have spent all transit benefit purse funds for the month), or online through a SmarTrip® online account.
* Important Note: You must have personal funds in the personal stored value purse in order to leave a Metro parking facility. Even if you have $130 in your transit benefit purse, you cannot pay for parking with transit benefit funds!
You can check the balance of both purses online by visiting the Log In to Your Account page.
Started in November 2011, Metro implemented the new "autoload" program. This loads your transit benefits directly to your card the first time you tap a SmarTrip® target. Metro fares will automatically draw from your transit benefit purse first. Due to this feature, it is recommended that you own a second SmarTrip® card for weekend or personal use.
- What if I lose my SmarTrip® card or it breaks?
If you lose your SmarTrip® card or it breaks, please see visit the WMATA page.
- How do I use transit benefits on a mode of transit that is not SmarTrip® enabled (e.g., vanpool, MARC, VRE)?
Instructions for allocating yout benefits to transportation providers which accept SmartBenefits®, but do not have SmarTrip® card readers installed for direct use can be found on the Allocate Your MTBP Benefits page.
- How do I determine my monthly commuting costs?
An expense worksheet is provided on MTBP applications. On paper applications (DD Form #2845), you can find the expense worksheet on page 3. This portion must be fully completed before the application can be sent forward for approval and processing. Please note that modes of transportation, individual stations, bus lines, etc. must be listed where appropriate. A SmarTrip® card serial number is required as well, which can be copied and faxed along with the application. Please provide the 9 digit serial number in the margins of the application or include it on the fax cover sheet.
- What is the maximum amount of subsidy I can receive?
The maximum allowed transportation benefit is $255 per month for Calendar year 2016.
- Do I need to show my ID or sign for electronic benefit distribution?
Not in person. Fare media is distributed electronically. Participants will claim benefits using a new CAC-enabled claims module on the DoD NCR MTBP website. Between the 1st and 15th of each month, participants will submit a claim for the following month. The claims module verifies that you are still employed, eligible, and will allow you to evaluate how any planned leave or travel will affect your commuting costs in the upcoming month. Claims are not optional and should take between 3-5 minutes to complete.
An example of the claims process is available in the Claim Your MTBP Benefits page.
FAILURE TO SUBMIT A MONTHLY CLAIM WILL RESULT IN A FORFEIT OF NEXT MONTH'S BENEFITS!
Failure to submit a monthly claim will not withdraw you from the Mass Transportation Benefit Program, but you will skip a month of benefits every time you fail to submit a monthly claim within the claim period. To allow for processing time, claims must be submitted by the 15th of the month prior to allocation of benefits. After the claim deadline, benefits are forfeited for the following month, and cannot be reinstated.
- How do I use my transit benefits?
Instructions vary by transit provider. For more details, please see Instructions for Receiving Electronic Fare Media.
- Can I use transit benefits to pay for parking?
No. Parking costs have never been allowed as part of the tax free DoD Mass Transportation Fringe Benefit. This rule is specifically detailed in the DoD policy on DoD Instruction 1000.27.
SmarTrip® cards will specifically block transit benefits from being used to pay for parking at Metro facilities.
* Therefore, you must have personal funds in the personal stored value purse in order to pay for parking at Metro facilities.
- Are the transit benefits I receive taxable?
No. Transit benefits are not taxable and do not have to be recorded on your tax returns.
- Is there an expiration date on my transit benefits?
Transit benefits can only be used during the month they are issued electronically. Unused benefits will expire at the end of the month.
- I just found out about the program, but I've been taking mass transportation for some time. Can I be retroactively reimbursed for these expenses?
No. Retroactive distributions are not permitted.
- What is a monthly claim?
An example of the monthly claims process is available on the Claim Your MTBP Benefits page.
The monthly claim process is an important internal control that replaces the physical verification of an employee's DoD CAC/ID to ensure continued eligibility. It also serves to document participant attestation to the program rules.
Claims for the next month's benefit are made between the 1st and 15th of the month prior to allocation of benefits. Cutoff dates are driven by WMATA's required deadlines.
Example: In order to receive benefits for November 2011, you must visit the MTBP website and submit a claim between October 1st and 15th. A claim made between October 1st and 15th will ensure issuance of November benefits.
Claims are made by visiting the DoD NCR MTBP website from a CAC enabled computer. If you know that you are going to be away from your CAC enabled computer for the next month's claim period, you can submit a claim up to 2 months in advance.
Participants will be required to make a claim each month to continue receiving benefits. At least three email reminders will be sent during the claim period.
- What if I forget to do my monthly claim?
You will not receive the next month's transit benefit allotment. Failure to submit a claim between the 1st and the 15th will result in the forfeiture of benefits for the following month. The monthly claim process is an important internal control. No claim = no benefits.
During the claim period, you will receive 15 email reminders to submit your monthly claim.
If you know that you are going to be away from your CAC enabled computer during the claim period for next month, you can submit a claim up to 2 months in advance.
- If I am submitting a claim once a month, do I still need to recertify annually?
Yes. You are still required to recertify once a year. The annual recertification is approved by your supervisor and your organizational reviewing official. Monthly claims do not pass through the same management for approval.
An example of the monthly claims process is available in the Claim Your MTBP Benefits page.
- What if I change organizations?
If you are changing organizations within DoD, please complete the process on the Apply for MTBP Benefits page and choose "making a change."
If you separate from DoD, you must withdraw from the program. See question 2 for more details.
- How do I withdraw from the program?
You must submit an application for withdrawal. The application is available on the MTBP website.
When completing the application, please provide an effective date and reason for your withdrawal in the "additional information" section.
Our office will ELECTRONICALLY retrieve any remaining transit funds (government issued) from your SmarTrip® card on the effective date you specify. You are free to use the SmarTrip® card for personal use and any funds you may have added out-of-pocket will remain unaltered by our office.
- What do I do if I have benefits left over from the previous distribution period?
Reduce your claim during the distribution period.
- What if my costs are more that the maximum benefit amount?
If your costs exceed the maximum allowable benefit, you must supplement additional costs with your own funds. The IRS sets the maximum allowable benefit amount. DoD cannot provide more than is allowable by the IRS code.
- What if my work schedule changes, i.e. I plan to telecommute or participate in an alternate work schedule?
If your work schedule changes your commuting costs, you must notify the MTBP office of this change. You may use the online application to make this change.
Remember that your estimated costs are based on the actual days commuted to and from work.
- I am leaving DoD to take another job and have leftover benefits. What can I do?
You must withdraw from the DoD NCR MTBP and return unused benefits upon your departure from DoD. Procedures for withdrawing and returning benefits are listed on the DoD NCR MTBP website.
- I plan to go on extended leave. Can I still receive my benefit?
If you are out on extended leave, you are ineligible to receive benefits for the period you will not be commuting to/from work. If your account is inactive for two consecutive quarters, you will be withdrawn from the program and required to re-enroll upon your return.
- I didn’t use all of my benefit. Can I give it to someone else?
No. Transit benefits are used for traveling to and from your work location. They are not transferable or intended to be used for your leisure. Selling or distributing your transit benefits violates the self certification on the application (DD 2845) which states, "WARNING: This certification concerns a matter within the jurisdiction of an agency of the United States and making a false, fictitious, or fraudulent certification may render the maker subject to criminal prosecution under Title 18, United States Code, Section 1001, Civil Penalty Action, providing for administrative recoveries of up to $10,000 per violation, and/or agency disciplinary actions up to and including dismissal."
A list of Qualified Transportation Providers servicing the National Capital Region highlights bus, rail, and vanpool services for your convenience.
Area Transportation Sales Locations
The following list of support services is provided for your convenience:
- CommuterDirect.com: Service that allows you to purchase VRE or MARC passes using your transit benefits
- Commuter Connections: Information on a variety of transit options and benefits, including the "Guaranteed Ride Home Program"
- Commuter Store: Locations for purchasing or exchanging fare media for service providers other than Metro
- GWRideConnect: Provides commuters from the city of Fredericksburg, and the counties of Caroline, King George, Spotsylvania, and Stafford with a variety of commute options.
- Mobile Commuter Store Schedule: Stops at the Pentagon and Mark Center every Wednesday. Other locations available in Arlington and D.C.
Transit Subsidy Programs Outside of the National Capital Region (NCR)
The MTBP was established in October 2000 and is offered to eligible* employees and military service members, to the extent authorized by law and regulation, to reduce pollution and traffic congestion, preserve the environment, and expand transportation alternatives.
* For eligibility/qualifying criteria, please select the Elegibility tab.