Every four years, the San Francisco Bay MTC goes through a “certification” process from the Dept. of Transportation in order to qualify for Federal funds. During the year 2000 review, the agency faced a Civil Rights challenge from transit and environmental groups. The basis of the challenge was that the MTC prioritized white-elephant rail projects at the expense of inner city transit riders.
MTC did eventually beat back the challenge, but only after making empty promises to do better.
In a routine certification process, the U.S. Department of Transportation this year made approval of MTC’s planning and spending process subject to two “corrective actions.”
The government ordered an evaluation of how MTC involves the public in its process, and told the commission to better serve low-income or underserved people as it goes about its business in the nine-county Bay Area, coordinating and financing transportation planning.
With FTA rejection of the BART Oakland Airport Connector project (OAC), the MTC is facing fresh allegations of discriminatory practices in funding allocations. If FTA hadn’t pulled the plug, the OAC project would have replaced an inexpensive shuttle-bus with $12 round-trip airport monorail. The $12 fare would be an enormous hardship on airport workers.
In a scathing letter, Cheryl L. Hershey, FTA Director of Civil Rights, states that FTA will do more than just yank Federal funding. The MTC may face another review:
As you are aware, BART is subrecipient of the MTC, and, therefore, MTC is responsible for ensuring its subrecipients comply with Title VI, the DOT Title VI regulations, and FTA Circular 4702.1A. Your agency is responsible for documenting a process that ensures that all MTC subrecipients are in compliance with the reporting requirements of FTA C4702.1A.
The fact that BART has not conducted the necessary equity analysis for the OAC project or fare equity analysis raises concerns that your agency does not have procedures in place to monitor its subrecipients. In order to determine whether MTC is in compliance with Title VI, FTA’s Office of Civil Rights requests MTC send FTA the following information within 30 days of receipt of this letter:
- a list of all MTC subrecipients; and
- MTC’s procedures for monitoring Title VI compliance of its subrecipients
FTA will determine whether the information MTC provides meets Title VI requirements.