September 7, 2012

FTA issues civil rights, environmental justice guidance

The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) issued new guidance aimed at ensuring that the civil rights and environmental justice concerns of minority communities and others are protected in transportation planning and decision-making, including proposed changes to transit services, such as laying new tracks, planning a neighborhood bus route or adjusting fares.

The FTA issued new and revised guidance to assist grant recipients in complying with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color or national origin, as well as guidance on incorporating environmental justice principles into transportation planning and decision-making.

The first guidance document updates and revises FTA’s Title VI Circular to clarify what recipients must do to comply with DOT’s Title VI regulations, including 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 guidance document is a 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.

Both the Title VI requirements and guidelines and environmental justice policy guidance are available here.

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