Federal Transit Administration Provided Guidance on Protecting Civil Rights and Addressing Environmental Impacts on Transit Riders and Communities

The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has issued new guidance aimed at ensuring that the civil rights and environmental justice concerns of minority communities and others are protected whenever changes to transit services are proposed, such as laying new tracks, planning a neighborhood bus route, or adjusting fares. FTA has issued new and revised forms of guidance to help grant recipients comply with existing Title VI regulations of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as well as environmental justice principles arising from an Executive Order issued in 1994. The first new guidance is a revision to an existing Title VI Circular providing regulatory guidance to protect people from discrimination based on race, color or national origin. The revised information describes how to comply with DOT’s Title VI regulations, which include careful evaluation of the impact of proposed service and fare changes on minority riders and ensuring that people with limited English proficiency have access to information they can understand. The second is a brand new Environmental Justice Circular intended to ensure that FTA’s grantees avoid, minimize or mitigate disproportionately high and adverse health and environmental effects on minority and low-income populations. The Circular states that it is critically important to involve these communities early in the planning and environmental review processes that determine which transit services and projects will ultimately serve them. Together, these documents go a long way to provide greater guidance, accountability and transparency in how existing and future transit service is evaluated and communicated to the public, and implemented on the ground. The new guidance is the result of an unprecedented level of FTA outreach that included public engagement sessions in Kansas City, Boston, Atlanta, Detroit and the San Francisco Bay area, as well as numerous webinars.