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"Title VI Program Requirements" Video Transcript

Instructor: State and local transit agencies receiving Federal Transit Administration funds are required to uphold Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, a landmark piece of civil rights legislation that outlaws discrimination on the basis of race, color, or national origin.

Dorval Carter: Title VI of the Civil Rights Act specifically states that any programs and activities receiving federal assistance cannot discriminate on the basis of race, color, or national origin. At FTA one of our top priorities is making sure that public transportation service is provided to all in a nondiscriminatory manner.

To this end, it is essential for all FTA grantees to have a well-planned Title VI program in place to prevent discrimination, promote public inclusion, and have the means to address, avoid, and mitigate any discriminatory actions and activity.

This may seem like a lot of work, but Title VI protections are essential in promoting and upholding a better America.

Instructor: This video will describe FTA’s Title VI requirements for a grantees programs, policies, and activities.

To ensure Title VI compliance, grantees should become familiar with FTA's Title VI Circular 4702.1B.Circular 4702.1B clarifies and updates FTA’s Title VI requirements and guidance.

This is video is a general overview, tailored to assist FTA grantees and provide the public with a basic understanding of the Title VI requirements.

More detailed information and other resources can be found on FTA’s Title VI and Civil Rights Training Materials webpages.

FTA grantees must comply Title VI as a condition of receiving financial assistance from FTA. Regardless of how a grantee receives its federal funds, it still must satisfy the Title VI requirements.

Most grantees receive funds directly from FTA, and will submit their Title VI program plans directly to FTA. These are known as direct recipients.

Some recipients are considered primary recipients because they pass federal funds to other agencies, known as subrecipients.

As a subrecipient you still have a responsibility to prepare and submit a plan. For example, if you receive federal funds only through a state, you would submit your Title VI Program directly to the state.

Grantees must submit their program plans to FTA by the posted due date to ensure it can be reviewed and concurred with before it expires. An expired status can hinder approval of FTA grants. Submission due dates are posted on the FTA website.

Key to the grantees Title VI program submission is ensuring it obtains its board of directors, or similar decision-making body approval.

Now let’s talk about developing a program.

A Title VI program will include:

  • A Public Notice
  • Instructions to the public regarding how they can file a Title VI discrimination complaint with the agency
  • A list of any public transportation-related Title VI complaints, investigations, or lawsuits filed with the recipient since the time of the last submission.
  • A Public Participation Plan; A Language Access Plan; and
  • An Equity Analysis, only if the grantee is required to, and has prepared one during the past three years for facilities or service and fare. Equity analyses will be discussed in detail in FTA’s training video, Understanding How to Conduct a Service and Fare Change for Title VI Compliance.

If a transit agency is applying for FTA funds for the first time, it will be required to provide information to supplement your Title VI Program. First time grantees are encouraged to contact their respective Regional Civil Rights Officer before developing a program.

Title VI requires that recipients of federal funds notify the public of their rights against discrimination.

At a minimum, information must be published on the grantee’s website, as well as areas where the public may interact with the transit agency. Examples of this include displaying posters or providing pamphlets in reception areas, meeting rooms or service areas such as transit stations, bus stops or even inside transit vehicles.

The notice should state that the agency operates programs without regard to race, color, or national origin and include a description of the procedures that the public should follow to get more information on the grantee’s Title VI obligations. The notice must also state procedures for the public to file a Title VI complaint.

To ensure compliance with the handling of complaints, a grantee must develop a procedure for informing, accepting, investigating and tracking any filed Title VI complaints.

Title VI complaint forms must be available for the public's use along with information on how to file a complaint. At a minimum these should be available online.

The next requirement is Recording and Reporting Title VI Complaints, Investigations, and Lawsuits.

This report must include the date of the complaint, investigation, or lawsuit; a summary of the allegation; status of it and any actions taken.

If the grantee is a primary recipient, it must also adopt procedures for tracking and investigating Title VI complaints that are filed against it.

Subrecipients must also establish a formal complaint process, either by creating their own or by adopting portions of the primary recipient’s procedures and policies.

This can include:

  • The notice to the public informing them of their Title VI rights
  • Procedures on how to file a Title VI complaint, and
  • A Title VI Complaint Form.

The subrecipient is still responsible for notifying passengers and other interested persons of their rights, and how an individual may file discrimination complaints directly with the subrecipient.

Again the subrecipient can adopt the primary recipient’s complaint form and process, however they are still responsible for its enforcement, monitoring and overall management.

The next requirement is to make the public aware of a grantee’s Title VI responsibilities.

A grantee is responsible for determining what public outreach measures are most effective based on a demographic analysis of the populations affected, the type of plan, program, and service under consideration, and the resources available.

A public outreach plan or process must include procedures to provide adequate notice of public participation activities, as well as early and continuous opportunities for public review and comment.

Some examples include scheduling meetings at times and locations that are convenient for constituents or coordinating with community and faith-based organizations and educational institutions with relationships to minorities and LEP groups.

Effective strategies for engaging minority and low-income populations and persons with limited English proficiency can be found in the FTA's Circular 4703.1 Environmental Justice Policy Guidance for Federal Transit Administration Recipients.

Title VI prohibits discrimination by recipients of Federal financial assistance on the basis of race, color, and national origin, including the denial of meaningful access for limited English proficient or LEP persons.

LEP refers to persons for whom English is not their primary language and have a limited ability to read, write, speak, or understand English.

A recipient’s Title VI program must include a plan for providing language assistance to LEP persons, which is referred to as a Language Assistance Plan or LAP.

In order to establish a LAP, the recipient first conducts a Four Factor Analysis that examines the following.

How many LEP persons are served?

When evaluating this factor grantees must look at:

How many and how do LEP persons interact with the recipient’s agency?

Who are these LEP communities? How many languages do they speak? This is needed to determine the appropriate language services for each group.

What are the literacy skills of each LEP group in their native languages? This determines whether the translation of documents will be an effective practice. And lastly, are LEP persons underserved due to language barriers?

The second factor to analyze is how often do LEP persons come into contact with transit programs. This includes surveying key program areas and assessing major points of contact with the public.

The third factor is assessing what the LEP populations consider essential services, as well as the most effective means to provide language assistance to them. This can be done by holding facilitated meetings with LEP groups.

Lastly, a grantee needs to manage resources and costs, consider technological advances, reasonable business practices, and the sharing of language assistance materials and services between recipients, advocacy groups, LEP populations and Federal agencies.

Grantees serving a significant number of LEP persons should ensure that their resource limitations are well substantiated before using this factor as a reason to limit language assistance. Grantees use the results of the Four Factor Analysis to determine which language assistance services are appropriate in order to develop its LAP.

At a minimum, the LAP should contain:

  • The results of the Four Factor Analysis, including a description of the LEP populations served
  • A description of how assistance services will be provided by language
  • Communication methods to LEP persons about the availability of language assistance
  • How the plan is evaluated and updated, and
  • How transit employees are trained to provide timely and reasonable language assistance to your LEP populations

A good starting point for LEP communities is to translate vital documents into the language of each frequently encountered LEP group. Failure to translate these vital documents could result in you denying an eligible LEP person access to services and would constitute discrimination on the basis of national origin. Non-vital documents can be translated orally.

Once you understand who your LEP populations are, and you have developed your LAP, you must apply it to your Title VI efforts, including public meetings, surveys and other documents or interactions with the public where you may need to translate information into languages other than English.

The Safe Harbor Provision outlines the circumstances that can provide transit agencies a safe harbor regarding the translation of written materials for LEP populations. It stipulates that a grantee is in compliance if each eligible LEP language group has written translation of vital documents.

Eligible LEP groups constitute 5% or 1,000 persons of the total population qualified to be served.

Written translation of vital documents are not required if there are fewer than 50 persons in a language group.

Written notices should be provided in the primary language of those with Limited English Proficiency about their right to receive competent oral interpretation of those written materials, free of cost.

These safe harbor provisions apply to the translation of written documents only. They do not affect the requirement to provide meaningful access to LEP individuals through competent oral interpreters where oral language services are needed and are reasonable.

If a grantee has a transit-related, non-elected planning board, advisory council or committees, or a similar committee for which it selects its membership, the grantee must do two things. One, provide FTA with a table depicting the racial breakdown of its committee membership. And two, provide FTA with a description of the efforts made to encourage the participation of minorities on such committees.

Primary recipients must monitor subrecipients to ensure that they are carrying out their plans as documented.

This is important, because if a subrecipient is not in compliance, then neither is the primary recipient. The primary recipient will need to document their process to ensure that all subrecipients are complying with reporting requirements. If the subrecipient is a fixed route transit provider, it also has to satisfy the corresponding requirements for fixed route transit operators.

A primary recipient is required to establish a schedule to collect and review its subrecipients Title VI programs.

If a subrecipient is also a direct recipient to FTA, then the primary recipient is no longer responsible for monitoring the compliance of that subrecipient. This understanding must be formalized in an agreement.

There are certain responsibilities to be mindful of when a primary recipient provides assistance to their subrecipients.

If a grantee passes through funds to a subrecipient the primary recipient must describe its process to ensure subrecipients compliance with Title VI and develop a schedule for collection and review of subrecipient Title VI program submissions.

Other ways a primary can assist subrecipients in their compliance is by providing information, such as travel patterns and survey results for the subrecipients service area, which is needed in developing their Title VI program.

For example, a primary recipient may share a common service area with a subrecipient. In this case, the primary may offer the subrecipient data it has on travel patterns or its experience in conducting surveys.

It is up to the subrecipient to decide how useful such assistance will be. But recipients like MPOs, States, and larger transit agencies generally know how to prepare and make this type of information readily available to its subrecipients and aid in compliance with Title VI.

When a grantee is planning to site a facility, it has to conduct a Title VI equity analysis to ensure that the site location was not determined with regards to race, color or national origin.

Examples of facilities include operation centers and storage and maintenance facilities.

They do not include bus stations, transit stations, or power substations, as these are evaluated during project development and the NEPA process.

This Equity Analysis must occur during the planning stage before the selection of the preferred site, and must compare the equity impacts of various site alternatives, and must notice and conduct outreach to potentially impacted populations.

Attention should be paid to other facilities in the preferred area, as there may be cumulative adverse impacts if an additional facility is built.

To ensure proper perspective is used in the analysis, grantees should utilize the Census tract or block group data.

If the grantee determines that the location will result in a disparate impact on the basis of race, color, or national origin, it may only locate the facility there if there is a substantially legitimate justification to do so. And it has analyzed the alternatives, and found that there are no other locations that will have a less disparate impact.

Civil rights compliance is central to the FTA’s mission and as a grantee; it is a condition of financial assistance. The revised Title VI Circular and other training opportunities can be found on FTA’s Civil Rights website.

Last updated: Wednesday, August 26, 2015