Transit Action Network (TAN)

Advocates for Improved and Expanded Transit in the Kansas City Region.

TAN Files Federal Title VI and Environmental Justice Complaint

Posted by Transit Action Network on June 19, 2017

For decades, road projects have dominated the allocation of federal transportation money in the Kansas City metropolitan area. Money allocated for transit did not resolve the lack of regional access for jobs, medical care or education. Usually the transit allocation share was too small, often only 5% of the available federal funds.

As a consequence, transit users can’t take night classes at Johnson County Community College or work at the call center in Lee’s Summit. An orderly at Research Hospital in Overland Park needs to be able to work the night shift and still get home on the bus. None of this is possible now because the only regular night and weekend bus service in the region exists in the two urban cores of KCMO south of the Missouri River and in Wyandotte County/KCK. 

KC Region Census Tracts with at least 50% minority populations – 2015

Recently MARC’s allocation of federal transportation funds to transit has increased. However the increase has mainly funded upgrades on well served bus lines, streetcar vehicles, new buses or fare collection systems. These are important uses but basic bus service still doesn’t exist throughout the region for someone wanting to take retail or service industry jobs in Johnson County or Eastern Jackson County that require working outside of the 9-5 workday.

Federal and local transit money has been directed to provide the best transit service in the two urban core areas, which basically overlap areas with at least 50% minority populations.

It is great that reasonable levels of transit exist in these two areas. However, minorities only have this level of transit service if they stay within “their” area. Access to thousands of regional jobs, top regional medical facilities or the best educational facilities in the region are off limits if you live in the urban core and need to use transit. These two high-density minority areas don’t have many of the region’s jobs. Even the KCMO downtown corridor only has about 17% of the region’s jobs.

Today TAN filed 4 federal discrimination complaints affecting the region’s Environmental Justice minority populations. Here is the document.

Title VI and Environmental Justice Complaint -TAN 2017

Two complaints are for Disparate Impact and two complaints are for Disparate Treatment. These are legal terms used in Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Here is our understanding of these terms:

  • “Disparate Impact” is basically unintentional discrimination. People do something where they did not intend to discriminate but the result is discriminatory. Or maybe they did intend to do the discriminatory act but intent can’t be proven.
  • “Disparate Treatment” is intentional discrimination. A historical example is when African-Americans were required to sit in the back of the bus.

TAN filed with the federal agencies that fund transportation, FHWA, FTA and US DOT. Three of the individual complaints are related to how federal transportation money is allocated to projects by the local designated recipients of federal money, MARC, KDOT and MoDOT, and the results of that allocation. TAN alleges that not only is the resulting regional transit system discriminatory, but failure to follow federal guidelines for allocating and reporting the federal transportation money is also discriminatory and contributes to the failure of the regional transit system.

Also included is a complaint against Johnson County, Kansas for failure to provide complementary bus service for people with disabilities on its local routes. The routes were changed last year and the service for people with disabilities has not been started. This is a clear breach of the ADA and since failure to provide the service affects minorities, it is Disparate Treatment as well as a failure to implement ADA regulations.

If you have questions about the complaint after reading it, please contact us at TransActionKC@gmail.com

attachments: Johnson County Gateway Environmental Conclusion

MARC Oct 2013 EJ Analysis

MARC 2016 EJ Analysis

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