UPDATED! FTA ruling is out on LA Metro civil rights violations--we're calling on Obama to intervene, reverse MTA service cuts
The Bus Riders Union and civil rights groups on Tuesday held a press conference to sharply denounce the Federal Transit Administration's (FTA) failure to find Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LA Metro) in violation of federal civil rights laws, and failure to restore 1 million hours of previously cut service. Despite overwhelming evidence showing that the agency knowingly discriminated against bus riders of color when approving the elimination of nearly one million hours of bus service between 2007 and 2011, the FTA issued a ruling with stern words but no remedies. Transit riders are urging President Obama to intervene, calling it a test of his administration's commitment to civil rights.
Smoking Gun | Comment from BRU Lead Organizer, Sunyoung Yang
"FTA is ignoring the smoking gun uncovered by its own civil rights team," said Sunyoung Yang, lead organizer at the Los Angeles Bus Riders Union, a grassroots civil rights membership organization of LA's transit riders that has battled LA Metro for years. "Rather than hold Metro responsible, Administrator Rogoff is allowing the agency to paper over its civil rights abuses through more studies to make its civil rights violations disappear through administrative sleight of hand. Since Rogoff and FTA have abdicated their responsibility to enforce Title VI, we're calling on President Obama to bring real civil rights to LA bus riders and order the restoration of lost transit service."
Test Case for Obama Admin | Comment from Senior Staff Attorney at Public Advocates Guillermo Mayer
"This is a critical test case that will signal whether the Obama Administration has the political will to enforce Title VI," said Guillermo Mayer, senior staff attorney at Public Advocates, a San Francisco-based civil rights law firm. "First, in an ideologically-driven 5 to 4 decision in 2001, the Supreme Court barred individuals and groups like Bus Riders Union and Public Advocates from bringing disparate impact cases in court, so now federal agencies are our last recourse to fight these harms. We call on President Obama to overturn the FTA decision to prevent a huge set-back for civil rights."
Death of Civil Rights | Comment from BRU Co-Chair Barbara Lott-Holland
"Since LA Metro has consistently shown disdain for both the letter and spirit of civil rights protections, bus riders in Los Angeles and the social movement we've built expect and deserve to have our rights enforced by the federal government," said Barbara Lott-Holland, a 35-year bus rider and co-chair of the Bus Riders Union. "We're at a historic cross-road in our nation's commitment to civil rights, and President Obama has the chance to send a clear message that he will not allow the death of Title VI on his watch."
Key links, more info
See FTA's Letter to LA Metro on civil rights review,
Bus Riders Union letter to FTA Administrator Peter Rogoff re backtracking on civil rights findings.
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