Bay Area MPO Cleared Of Racial Bias Charges

A federal appeals court upheld a federal district court ruling that the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, the Bay Area's transportation planning and funding agency, does not discriminate against minorities in the way it funds buses and trains

The court ruled on Feb. 16 that the suit by brought by the East Bay's AC Transit riders lacked "evidence of racial disparities - much less discrimination - in the Metropolitan Transportation Commission's selection of projects to receive funding."

The basis of the suit was the bus riders' claim that "the commission's per-passenger funding for AC Transit was less than half the amount it provided for BART and less than one-fourth the subsidy for Caltrain."

The appeals court noted that U.S. Magistrate Elizabeth Laporte "should have dismissed the suit earlier (in March 2009) because overall ridership figures don't reflect the communities served by projects that the commission funded."

Ironically, the court pointed to high-priced rail projects like S.F.'s Central Subway and the Fremont-San Jose Bart extension that litigants questioned to show that they would help minority transit users.

From MTC Press Release: "We are pleased with this victory and happy that after nearly six years of litigation we can finally put this matter behind us," said (MTC) Commission Chair Scott Haggerty, who also serves as an Alameda County Supervisor. "MTC has been forced to spend millions of scarce public dollars defending itself from a misguided lawsuit at a time when there is an urgent need to stabilize and improve all Bay Area transit systems."

Full Story: Court: No racial bias in Bay Area transit funding

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