Norton Writes Federal Transit Administration Asking for Public Disclosure of Transit Agencies Choosing to Waive Title VI Equity Analysis
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) today sent a letter to Acting Administrator of the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) K. Jane Williams asking that any transit agency choosing not to conduct a Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 equity analysis publicly report that decision. The FTA is giving agencies under its jurisdiction the option during the coronavirus of waiving this analysis, which evaluates the impacts of proposed service and fare changes on Title VI-protected and low-income populations. The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) is one of the agencies not conducting a Title VI equity analysis.
“The Title VI equity analysis is a tool required by the 1964 Civil Rights Act that protects people from discrimination based on their race, color, or national origin by any program that receives federal assistance, like public transportation programs,” Norton said. “I was alarmed to learn that some of these equity analyses have been waived, including for WMATA, which my constituents rely on for their daily needs. While I understand the pandemic has affected public transportation, the public should be aware of transit agencies waiving their rights under the law and why.”
The full letter is below.
November 5, 2020
K. Jane Williams
Federal Transit Administration
1200 New Jersey Avenue SE
Washington, DC 20590
Dear Acting Administrator Williams:
As Chair of the Highways and Transit Subcommittee, it has come to my attention that the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) is not requiring transit agencies to conduct a Title VI equity analysis for service cuts and changes made in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. I understand that FTA expects all transit agencies to take reasonable measures to implement changes to services or fares equitably to prevent unintentional discrimination. However, I am concerned that waiving the Title VI equity analysis could negatively impact the very communities this legislation is designed to protect. I ask that FTA require any transit agency that chooses not to conduct a full Title VI equity analysis to publicly report that decision. The public should be aware if transit agencies are waiving riders’ rights under the law.
As you know, Title VI of the Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination in programs that receive federal funding. Normally, transit agencies would undergo an equity analysis for service cuts. While transit agencies require flexibility in dealing with the ongoing and serious impacts of the pandemic, it is essential that decisions about service levels and fare changes are made transparently. I want to ensure that persons protected under Title VI, who are often the most transit-dependent riders, are not negatively impacted by transit agencies waiving the Title VI equity analysis.
I ask you to require transit agencies that waive their Title VI equity analysis to report that decision publicly and to provide transit agencies with guidance on how to ensure equitable service and fare changes during the pandemic. Please respond in writing by December 5, 2020.