National Academies Press: OpenBook
Page 46
Suggested Citation:"X. CONCLUSION." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2011. Reductions in Transit Service or Increases in Fares: Civil Rights, ADA, Regulatory, and Environmental Justice Implications. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/14498.
Page 46

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46 Table 8. Transit Agencies That Prepare a Legal Memo- randum on Reduction in Service or Increase in Fare Issues Transit Agencies That Have a Legal Memorandum 54 Transit Agencies That Do Not Have a Legal Memorandum 6 Transit Agencies Not Responding 4 One agency having such a memorandum said that it “is reviewed by the directors and legal counsel to de- termine potential violations, risks, or lawsuits.” One agency’s reply was that that, although there is no specific internal legal memorandum, the agency has “very precise policies in place to address these issues. The process of route service reduction and fare increase is never…undertaken cursorily or superficially.” More- over, the agency stated that “before any decisions are made, a series of meetings and public outreach efforts are made with all cities and members of the county, with the public, and with specific transit interest groups. Their input often guides whatever decisions we make regarding route modifications and/or fare changes….” In sum, although a small number of agencies have a legal memorandum regarding anticipated issues when reducing service or increasing fares, most agencies do not. X. CONCLUSION Reductions in service or increases in fares may affect adversely those who are the most dependent on mass transit for their transportation needs, such as minority and low-income populations. As stated, one objective of environmental justice is to assure that transportation policies avoid or mitigate negative effects on particular communities and ensure that disadvantaged groups receive their fair share of benefits. Consequently, the digest addresses the legal implications of reductions in transit service or increases in fares in the context of environmental justice. As for Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, indi- viduals may sue under Section 601 only for intentional discrimination. Section 602 of Title VI is applicable to discrimination resulting from policies and actions that have disparate impact on minorities; however, there is no private right of action to enforce disparate-impact regulations issued pursuant to Section 602 of Title VI. As discussed in Section V of the digest, the sole remedy for a claim of disparate impact is for an aggrieved party to file an administrative complaint pursuant to USDOT regulations and procedures. The majority view is that a Section 602 disparate-impact claim may not be brought under § 1983. Possibly, in the absence of direct proof of intentional discrimination, evidence of intent to discriminate may be established by proof of the Arlington Heights factors and/or the use of statistical evidence. However, in two recent cases, Darensburg and Committee Concerning Community Improvement, discussed in the digest, the plaintiffs’ disparate-treatment and disparate-impact claims were unsuccessful. The 2007 FTA Title VI Circular provides recipients and subrecipients of FTA financial assistance with guidance regarding compliance with Title VI regula- tions and how to integrate into their programs the USDOT’s Order on Environmental Justice and the USDOT LEP Policy Guidance. Nevertheless, recipients of federal funds may implement policies or take actions that have disparate impact if the policies or actions have substantial legitimate justification, if there are no comparably effective alternative practices that would result in less disparate impacts, and if the justification for the policy or action is not a pretext for discrimina- tion. A federal-aid recipient’s failure to assure that people who are not proficient in English can effectively partici- pate in and benefit from programs and activities may constitute national origin discrimination prohibited by Title VI. Recipients and subrecipients that are not re- quired to develop a plan must consider other ways to provide reasonably meaningful access to LEP persons. Recipients have wide latitude regarding what LEP measures are appropriate. As for the ADA, Title II, Part B, is applicable to pub- lic transportation services and includes essentially all forms of transportation services that state and local governments provide, such as motor vehicle and inter- city or commuter rail services. The USDOT issued regu- lations in 1991 that address a wide variety of issues not directly addressed by the ADA, as well as issued guide- lines interpreting the regulations. The digest discusses the practices that were identi- fied as the result of a survey of transit agencies con- cerning their handling and resolving of Title VI and ADA issues when it becomes necessary to reduce transit service and/or increase fares. Both Title II of the ADA and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act are enforce- able through a private cause of action. As noted in the Report, although a state may have sovereign immunity under the Eleventh Amendment in regard to ADA claims, it appears that even if an ADA claim is dis- missed on the basis of sovereign immunity, the claim may be brought under the Rehabilitation Act.

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TRB’s Transit Cooperative Research Program (TCRP) Legal Research Digest 35: Reductions in Transit Service or Increases in Fares: Civil Rights, ADA, Regulatory, and Environmental Justice Implications explores the legal implications of reductions in transit service or increases in fares in the context of environmental justice. Based on federal environmental justice principles, the report analyzes constitutional and statutory provisions and regulations in regard to transit agencies’ compliance with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VI) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).


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