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FTA Withdraws $70 Million from BART ForTitle VI Violations

Thursday, February 25, 2010

  • By: Marc Brenman Richard A. Marcantonio
  • Organization: Planetizen: Urban Planning, Design and Development Network

In the first action of its kind, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has withdrawn $70 million in federal stimulus funds from the proposed Oakland Airport Connector project due to multiple civil rights violations by the Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART). Marc Brenman and Richard A. Marcantonio talk about what happened.

On the eve of the anniversary of the federal stimulus bill, the Obama Administration has delivered a clear and powerful message that there will be no more business as usual where public money is concerned. In the first action of its kind, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has withdrawn $70 million in federal stimulus funds from the proposed Oakland Airport Connector project due to multiple civil rights violations by the Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART). This strong action underscores the President's recent State of the Union promise to vigorously "prosecut[e] civil rights violations."

FTA's action resulted from an administrative civil rights complaint filed under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by Public Advocates Inc., a public interest law firm in San Francisco. The complaint, on behalf of advocacy groups Urban Habitat, TransForm and Genesis, alleged that BART had failed to conduct an "equity analysis" to determine if the benefits of the airport connector project would be shared fairly by minority, limted English proficiency, and low-income communities. The advocates had put BART and the San Francisco Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) on notice last summer that federal requirements had not been met, and that the project would have foreseeable discriminatory consequences.

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