Community Calls for DDOT to Adhere
to FTA Civil Rights Regulations
Demands Transparency and Service Restoration
Detroit – Last month, the North End Woodward Community Coalition (NEWCC) announced the filing of a Title VI Civil Rights complaint against the Detroit Department of Transportation (DDOT) and demanded that recent cuts to bus service be rescinded. Reverend Joan Ross spoke on behalf of the Coalition. The Federal Transportation Administration, which oversees DDOT and other transit agencies, has stipulations to protect minority and low-income populations from being disproportionately impacted by cuts in public transportation.
Among the federal rule violations the group cited was DDOT’s failure to attain meaningful public input through public hearings. City transit officials conducted the hearings after the cuts had been made, thus rendering public input null and void.
“Making the cuts in service before you get input from the people most affected runs completely against any sort of democratic process or accountability,” said Reverend Joan Ross of the North End Woodward Community Coalition. “It is simply wrong and it also violates Title VI civil rights regulations. “
The hearings were also conducted during Holy Week and Tigers opening day. These are not times that maximized public input as required under federal law. Instead, they discouraged it.
DDOT was also mandated to measure the impact of the cuts in bus service on-low income and minority riders and to create an alternative plan to mitigate the impact of the cuts. It was difficult to get the public report showing the impact of the cuts and once it was attained, it showed that DDOT had not done due diligence with regards to mitigating the disproportionately negative impact on protected populations.
“One of the ways Detroit officials are supposed to be watching out for citizens is to figure out alternatives to cuts in transit, especially for low-income riders who often have no alternative but public transit to get to work and school,” said Reverend Ross. “The report they gave us doesn’t provide a ‘least harmful alternative’ as federal authorities mandate.
Other violations cited by the group involved DDOT’s failure to provide adequate translation or outreach for those with limited English proficiency.
The North End Woodard Community Coalition called on Detroit Mayor Dave Bing and the City Council to help DDOT be more responsive and transparent and to abide by federal rules. The group determined the best place to start would be to rescind the cuts in public transit and restore the service. NEWCC cited the newly revived Woodward light rail project and Mayor Bing’s pledge to find money to keep recreation centers open as the type of hopeful and innovative that could be applied to Detroit’s troubled bus system.
To learn more about the North End Woodward Community Coalition please visit http://www.newcommunitycoalition.info/Home_Page.html.