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.

Read the administrative complaint, visit the Bus Riders Union’s website, and learn about our exciting collaboration in the Transit Riders for Public Transportation national campaign.

Latest Updates

FTA finds widespread civil rights problems at LA Metro

December 13, 2011— The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has confirmed widespread civil rights problems at Los Angeles Metro, following an on-site investigation triggered by the Title VI administrative complaint prepared by Public Advocates and filed by the Bus Riders Union in 2010.  According to FTA’s compliance review report the transit agency is out of compliance with 6 out of 12 federal requirements, including its obligation to evaluate whether 11 transit expansion projects (three of which are under construction) will have a discriminatory impact on people of color and low-income Angelinos. The federal investigation also unveiled evidence suggesting that Metro knew that deep cuts to the bus system between 2007 and 2011 would harm people of color disproportionately, yet it approved them anyway. The audit also found racial and economic disparities in the quality of service received by transit riders. Metro has been ordered to prepare a corrective action plan within 30 days. FTA has yet to determine whether some of the more serious deficiencies amounted to a violation of the U.S Department of Transportation’s Title VI regulations.

Capacity crowd at BRU town hall highlights crisis facing LA bus service

August 1, 2011— The Bus Riders Union held a standing-room-only town hall to draw attention to the crisis caused by Metro’s elimination of nearly 1 million hours of bus service over the past four years. Attended by over 200 community residents, bus riders and activists, the event generated over 3 hours of public testimony about the impact of the service cuts on working class families, people of color, seniors and youth. Public Advocates senior staff attorney Guillermo Mayer served as a panelist at the event, joined by other experts that included Robert Bullard, Connie Rice, and Martha Arguello. Read the LA Times coverage here. To hear audio clips of the event see the Bus Riders Union’s blog post. A full report on the transit crisis will be released in October.

Feds Investigate allegations of bias against LA bus riders

July 1, 2011— Investigators from the Federal Transit Administration conducted a 3-day Title VI compliance review of Metro. During their on-site visit, the FTA investigators met with the Bus Riders Union and members of the South L.A. community to discuss the allegations in their administrative civil rights complaint, as well as other concerns regarding Metro’s ongoing projects and funding practices.

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