Monday, May 19, 2008

Civil Rights Complaints Filed Against MTA

(Nashville, Tenn.) – Civil rights complaints filed to the Federal Transit Administration and the U.S. Department of Transportation charge the Tennessee Department of Transportation, the Metropolitan Transit Authority of Nashville-Davidson County, and two other Middle Tennessee transit agencies with racial and socio-economic discrimination.

The complaints, filed by Power to the People, a local African-American social justice group, seek the suspension of all federal funds to TDOT, MTA, the Metropolitan Planning Organization and the Regional Transportation Authority.
MPO is responsible for transportation planning and policy implementation for local governments in Davidson County. RTA finances, constructs and administers the county's local and rural transportation agencies.

The complaints also ask the FTA and the USDOT to stop the 25-cent fare hike and the reduction of seven bus routes currently sought by MTA, which operates the bus system in Nashville and Davidson County. Power to the People recently organized the Nashville Bus Riders Union to prevent MTA's proposed changes.

Power to the People's complaints were filed, in part, under the provisions of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The act prohibits discrimination by any agency that receives federal funding.

Among the allegations in the complaints:
1. MTA has not properly advised riders of the proposed fare hike and service cuts and has held insufficient meetings for public comment. No meetings were held in South or North Nashville, where large Hispanic, immigrant and African American communities are located.

2. TDOT does not properly fund mass transit systems in Tennessee, providing over $400 million for highway construction and only $40 million for mass transit.

3.TDOT, MTA, MPO and RTA do not properly advise low income and minority riders of transit agency meetings and planning.

4. The four transit agencies practice economic discrimination by forcing low income and minority riders to pay for fare hikes, while allowing state employees to ride free.

5. The Music City Central bus hub now under construction is in violation of federal environmental and discrimination laws (e.g., environmental racism).
"...This transit racism is illegal, unprofessional, and the result of institutional racism," according to the complaints.

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