WASHINGTON - It has been 55 years since Rosa Parks refused to give up her bus seat in Montgomery, Alabama. In the ensuing years, the Federal Transit Administration has worked not only to eliminate all discriminatory barriers on the nation’s public transit systems, but also to encourage members of minority and lower-income communities to participate in the public transportation planning process.
“In just a few decades, the FTA has helped to transform transit from a separate-but-equal enterprise in much of the country to an industry that strives to serve and be equally accessible to all,” said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.
Among FTA’s responsibilities is overseeing the implementation of civil rights laws and regulations in the nation’s transit agencies. These laws include Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, or national origin in programs and activities receiving federal financial assistance. The FTA is leading efforts to continuously improve accessibility for the nation’s disabled transit riders.
“The FTA is proud to carry on the legacy of Rosa Parks every day as we ensure that all transit riders are treated with dignity and respect and have equal access to transit,” said FTA Administrator Peter Rogoff. “No one should ever be prevented from connecting with their families, meeting friends, or visiting their local downtown centers. FTA will continue to work diligently to safeguard the civil rights of all transit riders in every community, so they may benefit from the taxpayer investments being made in public transportation across the country today.”
In addition to making historically high levels of investment in accessible transit that will serve a record number of riders across all geographic, economic and ethnic lines, the FTA also:
• Investigates civil rights complaints against transit agencies.
• Conducts workshops on civil rights requirements for federally-funded transit providers.
• Sponsors research to find ways to engage the public, including members of minority and lower-income communities, in the public transportation planning process.
• Funds research on the impacts of public transportation planning, investment and operations on transit-dependent lower-income and minority populations. Research includes the development of strategies to advance economic and community development in low-income and minority areas, as well as the development of training programs to promote the employment of lower-income and minority residents on federally-funded transportation projects.
• Requires that before any transit project is built, the project sponsor must first determine whether minority populations, lower-income populations, or Indian tribes would suffer disproportionately high adverse health or environmental effects.
The FTA annually provides approximately $10 billion in federal funding through grants for a variety of locally planned, constructed, and operated public transportation systems throughout the United States, including buses, subways, light rail, commuter rail, streetcars, monorail, passenger ferry boats, inclined railways, or people movers. The agency is also charged with ensuring that grant recipients are in compliance with federal laws and regulations.