FTA Releases Civil Rights Compliance Report on L.A.Metro

fta civil rights compliance review for L.A Metro

Streetsblog will have more coverage tomorrow morning and throughout the day. In the meantime, you can read the report itself above, Metro’s response at The Source, and the press statement of the Bus Riders Union after the jump.

Bus Riders Union Statement on Damning Federal Civil Rights Audit of LA Metro

Statement of Sunyoung Yang, Bus Riders Union lead organizer:

In its civil rights compliance review of LA County MTA (Metro), the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) issued a crushing indictment of MTA. This is the most serious compliance review findings issued in at least a decade.

FTA’s report includes unprecedented findings of racially discriminatory impacts. Specifically, the report emphasizes that, when Metro found racially discriminatory impacts in its recent service cuts, it failed to act.

The procedural failings discussed in the report are no less serious. FTA found Metro has carried out service cuts for years without doing the most basic and legally required equity analysis to determine if there are discriminatory impacts on its riders, who are overwhelmingly low-income and people of color. Similarly, Metro has approved and/or started 10 construction projects and failed to provide FTA with the required equity analyses .

Metro was under court supervision for 10 years to remedy civil rights harms on bus riders. When the consent decree expired in 2006, the agency claimed it was leaving that era behind. It is clear that claim was false. FTA’s review found Metro’s compliance irregularities began with service cuts it initiated the year after the consent decree expired.

The real question now is whether FTA will insist on an honest and fair corrective action plan from Metro. We believe such a plan would have to restore the nearly one million hours of bus service that Metro cut the last four years, cuts that rolled back transit service that was originally added as part of BRU’s lawsuit against Metro

Mayor Villaraigosa, current chair of Metro’s Board, and Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas both spearheaded opposition to this June’s transit service cuts raising concerns for riders’ civil rights. They should work to reverse the harms to riders’ rights caused by the past four years of cuts.

According to Richard Marcantonio, a senior attorney at the civil rights law firm public advocates and a national expert on civil rights enforcement, these findings are landmark for transit civil rights. “FTA’s findings are a damning indictment of a transit agency that was under a federal civil rights Consent Decree for 10 years. The strongest compliance findings we had seen from FTA previously were last year against BART. The BART findings sent shock waves across the country. This is BART times ten.”