In November 2010, Public Advocates assisted the Bus Riders Union in preparing a Title VI administrative complaint against the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA or Metro), alleging that the agency’s decision to eliminate over 387,500 hours of bus service – while making no cuts to rail service whatsoever – has a discriminatory impact on Latinos and low-income riders. Ninety-one percent of Metro’s bus riders are people of color, and 70 percent have annual household incomes under $26,000. In contrast, Metro’s rail system carries more than twice the proportion of white riders, a third fewer Latinos, and a disproportionate number of wealthier riders compared to the bus system. MTA’s discriminatory actions continue a three-year pattern of cuts that has eliminated over 564,000 service hours from the bus system since 2008. During that same period, subway and light rail service has increased by over 55,000 hours. In 1994, the BRU brought a ground-breaking Title VI class action lawsuit against MTA, resulting in a historic consent decree that expired in 2006.
The Bus Riders Union filed the complaint with the Civil Rights Office of the Federal Transit administration on November 15, 2010. The Labor/Community Strategy Center (its parent organization), the Koreatown Immigrant Workers Alliance, and the Los Angeles Community Action Network are also parties to the complaint.
On March 14, 2011, the FTA announced that it would launch an agency-wide probe into MTA’s Title VI compliance, which would include an investigation into the Bus Riders Union complaint.