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reviews and specific fact-based Title VI compli- analysis for the OAC project in time to meet ARRA ance reviews.25 Issues include whether the agency funding deadlines.29 has conducted an adequate four-factor analysis of Several new FTA LEP deficiency findings are LEP populations in its service area(s); whether the expected to be released later in 2010. In addition, agency has developed and implemented a language an FTA civil rights task force was as of April 2010 assistance plan; whether the agency has a process examining all Title VI enforcement practices, includ- for monitoring and updating its language assistance ing LEP activity. Although it is anticipated that plan; whether safety and emergency information is additional guidance will be released based on the consistently provided in required languages;26 and task force's conclusions, there is no public timeframe whether notice of right to file Title VI complaints is for the release of such guidance.30 provided in required languages. LEP issues have Between 2002 and June 16, 2010, the FTA had also arisen in the context of environmental reviews.27 finalized 27 Title VI compliance reviews, 19 of which Issues include whether the agency has conducted covered LEP issues to some degree. Of those com- adequate analysis to identify LEP populations pliance reviews, it appears only the review of the within the project study area; whether outreach to Regional Transit District in Denver focused on LEP LEP communities is sufficient to make those com- in particular, although the reviews of Houston Metro, munities aware of the environmental process; and New York City Transit, and the Detroit DOT did whether the agency has adequately sought out and note deficiencies related to LEP.31 considered the viewpoints of LEP populations within the project study area. SUMMARY OF SURVEY QUESTIONNAIRE There are indications that FTA enforcement of Title VI issues may become more stringent.28 In Feb- The purpose of the survey questionnaire (included ruary of 2010, the FTA rejected a plan by the Bay as Appendix A) was to determine whether there Area Rapid Transit District (BART) to use funding have been LEP complaints not reported in cases or from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act described by the FTA in its published compliance reviews. The questionnaire posed two screening ques- (ARRA) for the Oakland Airport Connector (OAC) tions concerning complaints: whether the agency had project based on Title VI noncompliance, based on received or been the subject of any complaints of any BART's inability to rectify "well-founded" allega- kind regarding either LEP compliance or environ- tions that BART had not completed a service equity mental justice based on the agency's treatment of LEP populations (Question 4) and whether the agency had received any objections to providing multilingual trip 25 Telephone interview with Amber Ontiveros (FTA's Office information (Question 5). Question 4 was intended to of Civil Rights, lead on Title VI), Mar. 19, 2010. discern both complaints made directly to the transit 26 AB 611, introduced in the California Assembly in 2009, agency and complaints made to the FTA or other enti- would require the California Emergency Management Agency ties about the transit agency. Only those agencies that to take measures to help LEP population prepare for emergen- answered affirmatively to Questions 4 or 5 were asked cies and understand information conveyed during emergencies. to complete Part II. Table 1 summarizes the aggregate Bill Analysis, AB 611 (Fong)--as amended: April 15, 2009, responses to Questions 4 and 5. http://info.sen.ca.gov/pub/09-10/bill/asm/ab_0601-0650/ab_ 611_cfa_20090422_103934_asm_comm.html. 27 U.S. DOT Complaint No. 2008-0154 and 2008-0171 (alleg- ing lack of compliance with 49 C.F.R. 21.5, EO 12898, and 29 FTA February 12, 2010, letter to Steve Heminger, Executive EO 13166 by Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County Director, Metropolitan Transportation Commission, and Dorothy in carrying out public involvement for the Draft Environmental Dugger, General Manager, BART, www.mtc.ca.gov/pdf/OAC_ Impact Statement for the North Corridor Light Rail Transit 2-12-10_memo.pdf. project). 30 Telephone interview with Amber Ontiveros (FTA's Office of 28 Transit Breakthrough in Restoring Civil Rights: Title VI Com- Civil Rights, lead on Title VI), May 5, 2010. plaint by San Francisco Bay Area Coalition Has National 31 Title VI Compliance Reviews, www.fta.dot.gov/civilrights/ Implications, Oakland Local, February 23, 2010, oaklandlocal. title6/civil_rights_5463.html; Title VI Compliance Review com/article/transit-breakthrough-restoring-civil-rights-title- of the Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County, vi-complaint-san-francisco-bay-area-coalit. vvoice.vo.llnwd.net/e7/3676770.0.PDF. 5
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Table 1 Responses regarding LEP complaints Table 2 Responses regarding written compliance and objections to multilingual trip information programs and report's usefulness (Questions 3 and 7) (Questions 4 and 5) No No Yes No Response Other Yes No Response Other Written LEP 58 24 1 2 in progress Complaints 3 81 0 1: "Nothing compliance received/ reportable" program subject of Report useful? 70 11 3 1 unsure complaints Objections 1 84 0 0 to providing multilingual summarizes the aggregate responses to those two trip questions. information Although most of the agencies indicated that they believed a report on LEP compliance issues would be useful, only three specified issues that they would like As reflected in Table 1, the survey responses to see addressed. One agency suggested that any such indicate that there have been very few complaints, at report address LEP issues facing agencies that serve least among the 84 responding agencies (listed in rural populations; the second agency asked that Appendix B). Two agencies indicated that the FTA the report address case law defining the difference had raised questions about their LEP compliance. Of between major and minor service changes as that dis- these, one agency had had issues raised during FTA tinction is related to the requirement for conducting a reviews, but without feedback as to specific defi- Title VI service analysis report; and the third agency ciencies; one agency believes it may be subject to noted an operational problem related to providing some LEP deficiency findings, but as those reviews paratransit service to an LEP individual whose men- are not final, the agency was not prepared to pro- tal challenges were masked by the language barrier. vide any descriptions of its issues. The former is In addition the questionnaire assessed agency the agency that responded "nothing reportable" to the use of guidance by asking respondents to indicate complaint question. Two agencies indicated that they whether they were either aware of or relied upon five have had complaint activity. Of these, one agency sources of LEP guidance: has had a complaint, but cannot discuss the issue · EO 13166 (Improving Access to Services for until the FTA provides a response; the other agency Persons with Limited English Proficiency); reported miscellaneous minor complaints that do not · U.S. DOT guidance on LEP compliance appear to have been escalated to the FTA. A fifth (DOT LEP Guidance, Federal Register, agency, although not responding affirmatively to Vol. 70, No. 239, pp. 7408774100, Decem- Question 4, indicated in its Part II response that the ber 14, 2005); FTA had documented LEP deficiencies. None of the · The FTA's guidance on LEP compliance agencies have been involved in any litigation related (Chapter IV, Part 4 of Circular 4702.1A, Title to LEP compliance. Only one of the agencies reported VI and Title VI-Dependent Guidelines for objections to providing multilingual trip information FTA Recipients); (i.e., objection to Spanish audio announcements on · State or local requirements for providing vehicles). language access to LEP populations in the In addition to requesting contact information agency's service area; and and basic information about the LEP population in the · U.S. DOT Order 5610.2, U.S. DOT Order on agency's service area (i.e., number of LEP persons, Environmental Justice to Address Environ- percentage of LEP out of total population, and basis mental Justice in Minority Populations and for LEP population estimate) and posing the queries Low-Income Populations. about complaints, the questionnaire asked whether respondents had a written compliance program and Table 3 aggregates the responses. whether they believed a report examining legal issues Part II of the questionnaire consisted of three related to LEP compliance would be useful. Table 2 questions concerning compliance issues (Question 8), 6