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Commuter Programs FAQs

Click a question or common problem below to view more information:


How do I sign up for post-tax commuter benefits?

Signing up for both post-tax transit and commuter parking benefits is easy. Simply go to, create a user logon, and then follow the on-screen instructions.

What is the monthly cutoff date for enrollment?

The monthly cutoff will always be the fifth of the month at midnight. Enrollments or changes that are entered after the monthly cutoff will be delayed by a month.

Do I need to re-enroll in this program every year?

No. Once enrolled, your deductions and transit program set up will remain in place until you either change or discontinue your participation.

Who do I contact if I have questions regarding my enrollment?

If you have any questions about the PayFlex portal or how to enroll on the portal, please contact PayFlex at (800) 284-4885.

How will the deductions appear on my pay advice?

Several deduction codes will be used depending on whether the deduction is for the transit or parking program or whether the deduction is pre-tax or after-tax. The following descriptions will appear on your pay advice.

  • Commuter Transit Before-Tax
  • Commuter Transit After-Tax
  • Commuter Parking Before-Tax
  • Commuter Parking After-Tax

Most employees will only see the after-tax deductions. Only those employees whose live in the DC, New York, and San Francisco metro areas will have transit or parking deductions before-tax.

How do I stop my monthly deduction?

If you no longer wish to participate in the program, you must log into before the monthly cutoff date (5th of each month) and shut off your deduction. If you do not shut off your deduction before the cutoff date you will receive your transit benefit for one more month. No refunds or adjustments will be provided.

Benefit Information

What transit programs are included in the program?

Our vendor supports all transit programs where Northwestern University has employees including the Chicago, New York, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. metropolitan areas. Employees enroll by first selecting the transit region in which they reside which then makes all local transit programs available to them for that region.

What Chicago area transit programs are covered?

In the Chicago area the program covers the popular CTA, Metra, and Pace transit systems as well as the Northwestern Shuttle. Also, employees who use the South Shore, the Chicago Water Taxi and other local transit systems will be able to take advantage of post-tax deductions.

What is the pre-tax limit for commuter benefits?

The monthly pre-tax limit beginning in 2019 for transit and for parking in the New York, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. metropolitan areas is $260. The limits are indexed for inflation and the IRS announces the new limits near the end of the year. New limits will be communicated to participants as they become available.  Only the metro areas listed above will have pre-tax deductions.  The Chicago area will remain a post-tax deduction.

What if my monthly train pass or total transit benefits exceed the monthly pre-tax limit?

The full cost of your transit expense will be taken through payroll deductions. However, any amounts that exceed the monthly pre-tax limit will be taken as a separate after-tax deduction.  Pre-tax deductions only apply to the New York, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. metropolitan areas.

Transit Passes

How will I receive my monthly train and/or shuttle passes?

Monthly Metra and Northwestern Shuttle passes will be sent by our vendor via U.S. Mail to your home address. All passes are placed in the mail no later than the 22nd of each month. You must make sure that your home address is correct in myHR. To check or change your home address, log into the myHR Self Service Portal at

What if my transit agency uses farecards? How do I obtain one?

Employees must first obtain a fare card from their transit agency before enrolling in the transit benefit program through PayFlex. Your card number / account number is required when you enroll online.

What happens if my pass doesn't arrive in the mail?

If you don't receive your pass and you used the correct mailing address, you may be able to get a refund. You are allowed one refund in the calendar year for a pass you did not receive. Log in to your PayFlex account ( and click on "Commuter Benefits" on the left hand side of the screen. Under "Help", follow the non-delivered pass refund instructions.