$70M Transit Breakthrough in Restoring Civil Rights Title VI

In the first successful action of its kind in the nation, Bay Area members of Transit Riders for Public Transportation (TRPT), Public Advocates and Urban Habitat, filed a civil rights complaint to stop $70M in stimulus funds from being allocated to the $500-billion boondoggle rail project, the Oakland Airport Connector project (OAC). 

Filed along with organizations Genesis and TransForm against the Bay Area Rapid Transit Agency (BART), this civil rights action will result in the $70M being redirected to transit operations and other projects, preserving jobs and transit service.

This is an amazing victory at a time of depressing lowered expectations. There is hope!  Bay Area folk, thanks for making our day, and our week.

 FTA's Peter Rogoff to BART:

"I am required to reject your plan for the following reasons..."

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Citing civil rights failures, Obama Admin denies BART $70M in Stimulus funds

BART put at risk the civil rights of thousands of low-income Black, Latino, Asian and white bus riders by failing to comply with federal civil rights obligations it was required to meet in order to qualify for $70million in stimulus funding that it had allocated to the Oakland Airport Connector (OAC) project.

Filed last fall, the civil rights complaint, which included an extensive study of service inequities and more equitable alternatives, sparked an investigation by the Federal Transportation Administration (FTA). 

On Friday, FTA Chief Peter Rogoff sent a letter to BART and MTC rejecting BART's corrective action plan to address Title VI violations found in the investigation.

Full text of the letter here.

Funds redirected to Bay Area transit operations

Due to action taken by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) at its January meeting, the funding will now be reallocated in large part as operations funding to transit projects across the Bay Area, where it is desperately needed to preserve jobs and transit service.

Restoring Title VI’s Private Right of Action

The Bay Area's case is a strong example for why we need to restore the Private Right of Action provided by the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

For over 35 years the 1964 Civil Rights Act gave advocates the ability to use Title VI regulations to dismantle segregation and uproot discriminatory practices.  The Bus Riders Union's 10-year Consent Decree has been a landmark Title VI case. However, in Alexander v. Sandoval (2001), the U.S. Supreme Court took away the ability for individuals and organizations to bring private lawsuits to enforce disparate impact regulations, reasoning that Congress had never expressly created such a "private right of action."

The Sandoval decision has had a chilling effect on civil rights enforcement, leaving communities of color with limited recourses to challenge policy decisions that have racially inequitable outcomes. This is particularly true in the area of transportation, where billions of dollars in investments are stake, and where communities of color already suffer from a disproportionate share of transportation-related burdens while lacking access to safe, affordable and reliable transit.

Join the campaign

TRPT is leading a campaign to restore the private right of action.  We believe Congress should expressly establish a private right of action in the Federal Surface Transportation Authorization Act (FSTAA) to enforce the disparate impact regulations adopted by the Department of Transportation (DOT).

Join our campaign, please contact me at 213-387-2800 or by emailing info@transitriders.net.