Commuter Benefits

Howard University offers its full-time and part-time employees the option to participate in the Commuter Benefit program. Upon enrolling in the Commuter Benefit program, employees set aside pre-tax money from their pay for the cost of approved commuter expenses through Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA).

Participant elects a monthly contribution amount of up to $300 for transit, pass, and/or parking benefits. The monthly contribution amount is deducted from the enrolled employee’s second paycheck of each month and credited to their WMATA SmarTrip card the first of the following month. For example, if a participant elects to contribute $300 per month towards transit in January, the amount will be deducted from the second paycheck the employee receives in the month of January on a pre-tax basis and credited to their WMATA SmarTrip card on the 1st of February.

Important Note:

  1. Enrollment, changes, or disenrollment may be done at any time by completing the Commuter Benefit Enrollment form.
  2. Participant must purchase and register their SmarTrip card on the WMATA site at before contacting Benefits via to sign up.
  3. All enrollments/changes/cancellation requests must be received before the 10th of each month to be set up by the following month. For example, a request received to enroll/change/cancel the Commuter Benefit program on January 15th will not be processed until February 1st. 
  4. Participant will be able to load their SmarTrip with their monthly contribution the 1st of the following month in which they contribute.
  5. Participant may use their SmarTrip card for WMATA approved expenses.
  6. The commuter parking benefit offered through SmarTrip is different from Howard Parking, which is administered separately by each department.

*SmarTrip participants can also allocate pre-tax funds to participate with Marc Train.


Terms and Conditions Benefit Enrollment
Mass Transit May use: • Metro Rail/Bus • Regional Bus • MARC • VRE • Vanpools Purchase WMATA SmarTrip card and register in WMATA’s SmartBenefits online system in your payroll name • Pre-tax contribution that lowers your taxable income. • Contribute up to $300 per month commuting expenses to and from work • Complete application • Send to to enroll, cancel, or change • Enroll by the 10th of the month to begin coverage on the 1st of the following month
Parking Reimburse yourself for work-related parking expenses on a pre-tax basis • Off-site parking: (Metro, etc.) • Non-University/Hospital facility parking • Contribute up to $300 per month on a pre-tax basis • Complete application • Send to to enroll, cancel, or change • Enroll by the 10th of the month to begin coverage on the 1st of the following month

For more information visit here: How To Use SmartBenefits, call 1-888-SMARTRIP or email (M-F, 7am-8pm ET)

Applying SmarTrip Benefits to the MARC Train:

  1. Visit the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) website and open a SmarTrip Account.
  2. Register SmarTrip Card with WMATA.
  3. Wait to receive confirmation that your SmarTrip card has been successfully registered.
  4. Register SmarTrip Card with Howard University to be enrolled in the SmartBenefits program.
  5. Visit the Commuter Direct website and create an account.
    - You will need to include a personal credit card.
  6. Under the My Account Tab see “SmartBenfits & SmarTrip Cards” and select “Add/Delete SmarTrip Cards”.
    - Select the “Add New SmartTrip Card” option Howard University or you will receive an error message.
  7. You will be prompted to create a User ID and Password for your SmartBenefits account.
  8. Enter same information as when you registered SmarTrip Card.
  9. Enter Howard University as “Employer/Contributor” and select “I am not a Federal Employee."
  10. Enter the contribution amount and month to start allocation.
  11. Tickets will be mailed to the address provided.

If there is a problem with your SmartBenefits allocation process you will receive an email from Commuter Direct.

SmartBenefits Passenger Allocation System:

  1. Go to the SmartBenefits Passenger Allocation System.
  2. Log in (ID and Password should be the same from WMATA).
  3. Select the Bill Payment Tab.
  4. Select Make Payments.
  5. Select Howard University Add Payment.
  6. Choose Commuter Direct from drop down menu.
  7. Chose Commuter Direct in second drop down menu (the option without the numbers).
  8. Enter amount that you are looking to add on the MARC and then type 100%.
  9. Save.
  10. Always feel free to contact Commuter Direct at 703-228-7433, Monday-Friday, 7am until 6pm (EST) or Smart Benefits at 1-888-SMARTRIP, Monday-Friday 7am until 8pm (EST) for help.

Important Date:

Allocation steps must be completed before the 15th of the month prior to benefits beginning (i.e. submit allocation request by January 14 for funds to be applied beginning in February).

MARC Train Renewal Orders will be mailed in the middle of the prior month (i.e. January Tickets will be mailed no later than December 14).

**Nine Month Faculty SmartBenefit enrollments will be put on hold for the months of June thru September**