Small Victory for L.A. Bus Riders: Metropolitan Transit Authority to Be Probed by Feds

Comments (0)


Thu, Mar 17, 2011 at 9:45 AM

click to enlarge One pothole closer to a better bus system
  • One pothole closer to a better bus system
The Bus Riders Union hasn't been able to file a civil-rights lawsuit against the Los Angeles MTA since 2001 -- when the Supreme Court decided private orgs shouldn't be able to sue public agencies using the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The group actually won such a lawsuit in the '90s -- but ever since it expired five years ago, MTA officials have been free to chip away at the bus system as they please.

What do buses have to do with civil rights? Well, besides the obvious Rosa Parks connect, when drastic cuts are made to routes as fares skyrocket -- as the Bus Riders Union argues -- low-income minority residents, who rely on the bus for their livelihood, are the ones who feel it worst.

Amid MTA plans to cut around 300,000 more bus hours this June, the Bus Riders Union was panicking. But a letter that arrived March 9 was the next best thing to a lawsuit:

The Federal Transit Administration has agreed to get all up in the MTA offices and conduct a full-blown investigation of its practices. The letter from Washington, D.C. to the BRU reads:

"FTA plans to conduct an on-site compliance review of Los Angeles MTA this year. The decision to perform this compliance review was based, in part, on your complaint submitted to the FTA Office of Civil Rights. A copy of your complaint will be provided to the review team prior to the review."

The BRU is understandably jazzed on the announcement, calling it a "significant step [that] comes at a critical time."

BRU organizer Eric Roman emphasized to the Weekly once again this morning that blacks and Latinos make up 92 percent of bus riders, and have an average income of $12,000 per year. Though MTA is forward-thinking about changes like bike lanes and rail transit, the bus system has undergone nothing but shrinkage since the BRU's civil-rights lawsuit was lifted.

However, MTA officials told the Los Angeles Times that they have nothing to worry about, because "all the service cuts have complied with federal requirements":

Proposed reductions, they said, are analyzed and adjusted if necessary to avoid disproportionate effects on minority groups.

"In no way does the FTA letter or the scheduling of a review pass judgment on anything Metro has done or is doing," said Marc Littman, an MTA spokesman. "On the June service changes, we believe we are in compliance, and we plan to bring that out when we meet with the feds."

In the past, MTA officials have argued to the Weekly that faster, stealthier subway options will eliminate the need for so many bus routes.

In contrast, Roman points out that -- for example -- an Angeleno looking to travel from South Central to Union Station won't be able to do so on a proposed rail alternative, and would be forced into paying (and waiting) for two bus transfers after the June cuts.

The FTA letter does show some restraint, making it clear that "the specific issues in [the BRU] complaint will be addressed from a broader perspective by this compliance review, with the intent of resolving any issues of non-compliance identified."

But it's the best news possible in a moment of desperation.

The BRU will be holding a press conference to announce the good news at 10 a.m., right outside enemy territory: the MTA offices at 1 Gateway Plaza.


Related Content

Now Trending

  • Sexual Predator Is Targeting Females in Eastside Park

    A sexual predator is on the loose in an Eastside park, police warned today. Cops say the creep has targeted "lone females" walking in Ernest E. Debs Regional Park three times between January and July. He has groped, exposed himself and even attacked with a knife, the Los Angeles Police...
  • Foster the People's Downtown L.A. Mural Is Coming Down

    The controversial Foster the People mural downtown is coming down, the office of L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti announced today. Despite claims by the pop band that it had necessary permits and that the artwork was legitimately produced, the mayor's office states what we reported previously: The piece is on a...
  • U.S. Reps Call For Federal Intervention in Dodger TV Blackout

    A group of local U.S. representatives wants the Federal Communications Commission to help end Time Warner Cable's blackout of Dodger games for competing cable and satellite providers. Negotiations to bring the team's games to AT&T U-verse, Charter Communications, Cox Communications, DirecTV, Dish Network, Mediacom, Suddenlink Communications and Verizon FIOS have gotten...
Los Angeles Concert Tickets


  • Street League Skateboarding Super Crown World Championship
    On Sunday, Street League Skateboarding touched down in the Galen Center at USC as part of a four-stop tour for SLS's Super Crown World Championship. The L.A. stop determined the roster for Super Crown, airing August 24th on FOX Sports 1. The final eight are Nyjah Huston, Luan Oliveira, Torey Pudwill, Shane O'Neill, Paul Rodriguez, Chaz Ortiz, Matt Berger and Ishod Wair. All photos by Nanette Gonzales.
  • Comic-Con's "Celebrity" Autograph Area
    A sometimes overlooked (but still incredibly unique) aspect of San Diego Comic-Con are the celebs available to sign autographs, as well as the autograph seekers themselves. If you've ever wanted to meet the Soup Nazi from Seinfeld or the guy who played Michelangelo in the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, chances are, as you wander the Autograph Area, you'll be able to connect with someone you didn't even realize you were waiting your whole life to meet! All photos by Rob Inderrieden.
  • Real Madrid Soccer Practice at UCLA
    Fans came out to greet world champion soccer team Real Madrid as they practice at UCLA. This is the first time that soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo has practiced with the team this year. All photos by Jeff Cowan.