FTA’s enabling legislation includes the non-discriminatory use of Federal funds by recipients of FTA assistance, including their sub-recipients and contractors. Non-discrimination is ensured through oversight of grantee’s implementation of required civil rights regulations and policy. Compliance reviews and assessments are conducted to determine if the grantee’s required efforts under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, (including aspects of Environmental Justice), Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO), Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) programs, and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) requirements are in compliance as represented to the FTA.
The Environmental Justice Executive Order 12898, Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Populations (EO 12898) addresses fair treatment of all people regardless of race, color, ethnicity or income with respect to the benefits and burdens of environmentally related programs, policies and activities. EO 12898 directs each Federal agency “to make achieving environmental justice part of its mission by identifying and addressing, as appropriate, disproportionately high and adverse human health or environmental effects of its programs, policies, and activities on minority populations and low-income populations.” The EO and accompanying Presidential Memorandum emphasize that agencies should utilize existing laws, such as the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, to achieve this mission.
FTA has integrated Title VI and Environmental Justice considerations into FTA’s general grant program. In FY 1999, FTA developed joint FTA/FHWA policy emphasizing environmental justice considerations in the metropolitan planning review process. An example of this is the Office of Civil Rights’ work with the FTA Office of Planning to ensure that recipients of FTA funds incorporate Title VI requirements into the planning process for transit projects and activities. Title VI requirements include:
Disseminating information for implementing the transportation plan and TIP; and on proposed transit/highway projects to minority and low income constituencies;
Having constituents participate in public hearings and meetings; and
Recipients incorporating projects and addressing issues in the finalized planning documents such as the Transportation Improvement Program.
FTA continues to monitor the implementation of the Americans with Disabilities Act by its grantees to ensure that persons with disabilities have access to accessible mass transit services as required by law. FTA enforcement concentrates on three primary areas. These areas are: ADA Complementary Paratransit Service, accessibility of the fixed route, and the accessibility of rail service through the enforcement of the requirements applicable to existing designated key stations as well as those newly built and those undergoing major renovations.
FTA has a toll free ADA hotline (888-446-4511) and e-mail address (firstname.lastname@example.org) to provide customer service to persons with disabilities and transit providers who have questions about, or who are experiencing difficulties with, public transportation.
Another significant effort is FTA’s ADA Key Station Assessments. Together with the quarterly reviews, FTA continues to monitor the compliance at these stations on a regular basis. Like the triennial review, the assessments are a “check and balance” tracking system.
ADA key rail station compliance continues to be challenging in that these stations were built at different times, with differing facilities and standards in their construction. Nationally known experts on key station compliance within the transportation community conduct the FTA ADA Key Station assessments. The assessments are state of the art and continue to provide both technical assistance to the grantees and ensure ADA compliance.