SCaRP assistant professor Karner finds shortcomings in FTA equity analysis

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When the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority’s governing boardvoted to suspend the Boston area’s late night transit service in late February—still technically a pilot program even after two years—Boston seemed far from surprised. Local newspapers had been speculating about the demise of late-night service, which ran for an extra 90 minutes on Fridays and Saturdays, since the summer. (The Boston Globe published a post-mortem in December, more than two months before the decision became final.)

And yet, just days later, the Federal Transit Administration approached the agency with an issue that, for all its preparation, the MBTA had avoided. In a letter to MBTA counsel John Englander, the FTA Office of Civil Rights’ associate administrator Linda Ford wrote the Boston agency had failed to prove that its cuts wouldn’t disproportionately affect low-income and minority residents. The MBTA had simply skipped filling out an “equity analysis,” she said, which is required under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act.

The equity analysis process has its shortcomings. Alexander Karner, an assistant professor at Georgia Tech College of Architecture, has reviewed a number of equity analyses and found a few problems. First, planning agencies often decide what services they want to cut or add before performing the equity analysis, so the requirements of the area’s most needy residents are only considered afterwards. “It’s a bit of a box-checking exercise,” Karner says.

Read the full story on the Atlantic's CityLab site.

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School of City & Regional Planning

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  • Created By: Jessie Brandon
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  • Created On: Mar 21, 2016 - 10:57am
  • Last Updated: Oct 7, 2016 - 10:28pm