The Los Angeles Times is reporting that the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) will soon release a compliance review that finds that Metro did not fully follow federal regulations and guidance when the agency made service and fare changes. The review dates back to 2009.
It is important to note that the compliance review does not call for any service changes or fare changes to be rescinded. Over the past decade, the FTA has regularly conducted similar reviews of other transit agencies that receive federal funding and identified similar issues.
The following is Metro’s statement on the FTA’s review:
The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) recently audited Metro for compliance with federal Title VI Civil Rights regulations. The review is similar to those conducted at other major transit agencies around the country as FTA increases its focus on Title VI with the expectation that the transit industry must do a better job of compliance.
The FTA audit of Metro was not an investigation to determine the merit of any specific discrimination complaints filed against Metro. However, it did find deficiencies with the methodologies and processes that Metro uses to assess impacts of fare and service changes on minorities and low-income people.
Metro is working closely with FTA to ensure that it is in full compliance with all federal civil rights regulations. These apply to instances where Metro raises or even lowers fares, such as recent action to shave a dollar off the day pass price, cutting or adding bus or rail service. There are numerous technical and procedural regulations imposed by the federal government that have led to some confusion not only in Los Angeles County but across the nation. The FTA, which has audited Metro in the past without finding fault, has recently clarified the requirements.
Last May the Metro Board of Directors approved a budget that reassigned the agency’s Civil Rights unit to the CEO’s office and created a new full-time Civil Rights compliance officer position that reports to the CEO. Since the Civil Rights compliance officer was hired in September 2011, he has been working with Metro executives, sector governing councils, the FTA and others to thoroughly review and modify all Metro policies and procedures or adopt new ones as appropriate. This effort is well underway. Many of the changes should be in place by March. The remaining issues identified by the FTA audit involve improving communication with customers who have limited English proficiency and these should be resolved within a year. In addition, all Metro executives and staff and consultants involved in any aspect of Title VI will be retrained so they have a thorough understanding of all Civil Rights regulations and will be held accountable for full compliance.