Local Coalition Challenges MBTA Over Civil Rights Violation

Media Contacts:
Josh Block, CLF (jblock@clf.org; 617-850-1709)
Lee Matsueda, ACE (lee.matsueda@gmail.com; 617-592-1295)
Mela Bush Miles, GFCAC (pamela.bush@hotmail.com; 617-212-3646)

Says elimination of late-night service was unlawful, discriminatory action

July 26, 2016 (BOSTON, MA) – Alternatives for Community & Environment (ACE), Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) and Greater Four Corners Action Coalition (GFCAC) filed a complaint today with the U.S. Department of Transportation asserting that the MBTA’s decision to cut late-night service violates Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. According to the claim, the MBTA failed to accurately consider the disproportionate and disparate impact these cuts have on low-income riders and people of color and, in doing so, failed to evaluate and implement less discriminatory alternatives.

“For thousands of people across Boston working double shifts at low-wage jobs, a late-night train or bus is the difference between earning a paycheck and coming up short,” said Rafael Mares, Vice President and Director of CLF’s Healthy Communities and Environmental Justice program. “When the MBTA eliminated this service, it did so without regard for the letter of the law or the livelihood of those who need it most. Now we have an opportunity to compel the MBTA to do what it should have done months ago – own up to its rash and reckless decision and consider sufficient and equitable alternatives.”

In February 2016, the MBTA announced it would be cutting late-night transit service without performing the legally-required equity analysis to determine any discriminatory impacts of this decision on low-income riders and people of color. After the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) ordered the agency to do such an evaluation on March 3, the MBTA conducted an incorrect and inconsistent analysis that erroneously considered the entire population of Boston rather than a quarter-mile radius around each bus stop or subway station.

A map depicting this critical difference between how the analysis was performed and how the law requires it be performed can be found here.

“Having adequate access to public transit is integral to the livelihood of low-income communities of color because the T is a gateway to opportunity,” said ACE Executive Director Kalila Barnett. “Transit-dependent riders are already feeling the negative impact of fare increases and services on their quality of life. To learn that the decision to cut late night service was based on inaccurate information is deeply troubling. We look forward to swift corrective action on the MBTA’s part.”

Mares added, “After performing an analysis the right way, with the correct numbers and a meaningful public comment period, we’re confident the MBTA will recognize its gross error in judgment and find a way to alleviate the unjust and unequal burden placed on individuals throughout Boston. CLF looks forward to continuing to work with the MBTA in order to find a solution that works.”

Experts are available for further comment. A full copy of the complaint can be found here.


Focus Areas

People & Communities