Title VI Claim Filed Against Johnson County Transit
Posted by Transit Action Network on January 9, 2013
Transit Action Network filed a Title VI* claim with the Federal Transit Administration Civil Rights Division against Johnson County Transit (JCT) on December 14, 2012 in response to service cuts effective January 2, 2013. Additional signatories to the complaint are The Whole Person, Metro Organization for Racial and Economic Equity, and Westwood Christian Church.
The FTA Civil Rights Division is reviewing the service cuts for compliance with Title VI of the Federal Civil Rights Act of 1964, conformance with FTA Circulars 4702.1A and 4702.1B, and Environmental Justice issues under Executive Order 128998, “Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-income Populations.”
Johnson County failed to get the FTA Civil Rights Division to review and approve the service cuts before the Johnson County Board of Commissioners approved the plan. The only way to get the service cuts reviewed now was to file a formal complaint.
The basis of our disparate impact claim (see FTA Powerpoint presentation) is that riders and potential riders were harmed by Johnson County Transit’s inadequate and exclusionary public participation process, which did not conform with Title VI requirements of the Federal Civil Rights Act of 1964, therefore denying Minority and Low-Income Populations an opportunity for their issues to be considered as part of the decision-making process.
In addition to the deficiencies in the public participation process, TAN raised numerous other areas of concern about the service cuts:
- The Title VI analysis prepared by Johnson County Transit appears to be missing required data.
- The inferior service levels provided to Minority and Low-Income Populations throughout the JCT service area
- Segmenting-chipping away at minority routes to eliminate them while avoiding Title VI requirements
- The impact to Minorities with Disabilities
- The 33% service cut on Route 812/J may place a disproportionate burden on the Low-Income Population that uses this route, which causes an Environmental Justice issue.
- This route serves numerous elderly transit dependent people living in Section 8 HUD housing who depend on this route to acquire basic needs such as fresh food, medicines and clothing.
- The Johnson County Board of County Commissioners priority list for retaining service, which JCT was directed to use, appears to be discriminatory.
- JCT does not comply with its own Title VI program to put bus stop signs at every time point and/or every half-mile, therefore making the transit service virtually invisible in minority areas, such as around the University of Kansas Medical School in Kansas City, Kansas. This lack of public information contributes to their low ridership numbers.
Johnson County does a great job attracting economic development and creating jobs, yet a very small percentage of those jobs are accessible by transit. This situation is reflected in both the 2011 and 2012 Brookings Institution reports on job access by transit. In 2011 the Kansas City region was 90th of 100 and in 2012 it was 94th of 100 in its ability to provide access to jobs by transit. Johnson County is the main reason for the low ranking since it has a large portion of the jobs yet the commuter service has not adjusted to the new realities of suburban job location. Most of the transit is still focused on moving non-minority, middle and upper-income individuals into Downtown Kansas City, MO where only 14% of the region’s jobs exist.
In addition, even though Johnson County’s Minority and Low-Income Populations have increased significantly, the commuter service has not adjusted to address the needs of these residents, let alone needs of people in their greater service area.
TAN will gladly work with Johnson County Transit, the Johnson County BOCC and the FTA to resolve or mitigate the issues in any way we can.
For more information about the claim see the supplemental documentation we provided the FTA.
*FTA Powerpoint presentation explaining Title VI of the Federal Civil Rights Act of 1964 Title_VI_of_the_Civil_RIghts_Act_of_1964