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"Title VI Service & Fare Equity Analyses" Video Transcript

Instructor: This video explains the service and fare equity analyses requirements stated in Chapter 4 of FTA’s Title VI Circular.

This requirement applies only to transit providers who operate 50 or more fixed route vehicles in peak service and are located in an urbanized area of 200,000 or more people.

Dorval Carter: Progress has been made since the enactment of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and although the times have changed, the importance of civil rights and transit has only grown. With this in mind it is important, now more than ever, for FTA to clarify Title VI requirements and provide technical assistance to make certain that Title VI is affectively applied.

While discrimination can occur as a deliberate act, more often, neutral policies or practices may inadvertently cause adverse effects that disproportionately affect members of a group identified by race, color, or national origin.

Service and fare equity analyses are vital to ensuring transit service is provided in a non-discriminatory manner. Transit providers should however, be aware that with such analyses, there will be a need to properly collect and analyze the appropriate data, understand ridership, and conduct inclusive public outreach.

Instructor: An equity analysis is an assessment to determine whether service or fare changes will result in a disparate impact or disproportionate burden.

But before conducting either type of equity analysis, a transit agency must establish certain policies and procedures for collecting and reporting data about its customer demographics and travel patterns.

A transit provider must:

  • Establish its Major Service Change Policy
  • Define adverse effects related to a major service change or a fare change
  • Establish a disparate impact policy and a disproportionate burden policy, and
  • Validate which datasets will be used for the analysis

At several stages of this process, the transit provider must engage the public through outreach efforts. These efforts will occur in developing the policies and procedures as well as during any conducted analyses.

These analyses determine whether a Disparate Impact or a Disproportionate Burden will result from any potential fare changes or major service changes.

Disparate Impact is when a facially neutral policy or practice disproportionately affects members of a group identified by race, color, or national origin.

A Disproportionate Burden is when a neutral policy or practice disproportionately affects low-income populations more than non-low-income populations.

Determining datasets to measure any possible adverse effects is important.

This includes a comparison between the proportion of persons in a protected class who would be adversely affected by the service or fare change and the proportion of persons not in the protected class who would be adversely affected.

For instance, if ridership is used as the comparison population, then the comparison must be between the ridership of the affected routes with the ridership of the entire system.

If the service area’s population is used as the comparison population, the provider needs to compare the population of the Census blocks or block groups served by the affected routes with the population of the entire service area.

A Service Equity Analysis has two components: Service Equity Analysis for Minority Populations and Service Equity Analysis for Low-Income Populations.

Though not a Title VI protected class, FTA still requires providers to evaluate if proposed service and fare changes adversely affect low-income populations.

To begin the analysis, the provider must first identify what constitutes a major service change for the system.

A major service change policy is typically presented as a numerical standard, such as a change that affects “X” percent of a route, “X” number of a route miles or hours, or some other route specific or system wide change.

Or, it can be the number or concentration of people affected.

A major service change policy also includes the addition or reduction of services.

As part of the analysis, transit providers need to define and analyze the degree of adverse effects that may occur due to the transit service changes.

An adverse effect is measured by the changes between the existing and proposed service levels.

Examples of service changes include the elimination of a route, short lining a route, re-routing an existing route, or an increase in headways. Offering additional services may result in disparate impacts as they could result in reductions in service on other routes.

When a service change has been determined, the transit provider then measures any possible disparate impacts that may result from the service change.

This policy establishes a threshold for determining when adverse effects of service changes are borne disproportionately by minority populations.

This threshold may be presented as a percentage of impacts borne by minority populations compared to impacts borne by non-minority populations. The disparate impact threshold must be applied uniformly, regardless of transit mode, and cannot be altered until the next Title VI Program submission.

Here’s one example. A transit provider adopts a disparate impact policy that says that at any time if there is a difference in adverse impacts between minority and non-minority populations of plus or minus ten percent, then it's statistically significant.

So if minorities make up 30% of the overall population, but would bear 45% of the impacts, and the non-minority group would bear 55%, there may be a disparate impact.

Why? Because the minority group is bearing 15% more than its expected share, from 45% of the burden compared to 30% of the population. The non-minority group on the other hand is bearing 15% less than its expected share of 55% of burden compared to 70% of population. So by applying the 10% disparate impact policy, a disparate impact is revealed.

A transit provider must then consider modifying the proposed changes to avoid, mitigate or minimize this disparate impact.

In the submitted Title VI program plan, the dataset used in the service equity analysis must be described such as the American Community Survey, Census blocks, block groups, traffic analysis zone levels, or ridership data.

When relying on population data instead of ridership data, the choice of dataset should be the smallest geographic area that reasonably has access to the bus or rail stop or station. The standard adopted should reflect a grantee’s ridership and the specific service analyzed. For example, studies show that passengers will generally walk up to one-quarter mile to a bus stop or one-half mile to a light or heavy rail station, or drive up to three miles to a commuter rail station.

When a portion of the area is within the walking or driving distance just mentioned, data can be used from an entire Census block or block group.

The following framework explains how a provider can evaluate the impacts on minority populations of the proposed service changes.

Ridership is the appropriate comparison population when making headway changes, eliminating a route, or increasing service to an area currently served by the transit system.

The transit provider should compare the ridership of the affected route to the ridership of their entire system.

However the transit provider can compare the population of services areas when proposing to service a neighborhood or corridor not previously served by the transit system. Here, the transit provider would compare the population served by the proposed route to the population in the overall service area through Census blocks or block groups.

But what if a provider needs to propose a major service change that involves both headway changes and a new service to a neighborhood? The provider should select either ridership or population of the service area and conduct an analysis using the same comparison population.

It’s extremely important to not mix and match comparison methods. Ridership of affected routes should be compared to ridership of the system.

Populations of Census blocks or block groups should be compared with the population of the service area.

If a provider determines that the correct population base is ridership, they’ll need to state the reason why in the Title VI program plan submission. This is done by analyzing information generated from ridership surveys.

If a provider determines that the correct population base is Census blocks or block groups, the provider needs to document the reasons for selecting this population base and then prepare maps of the routes that would be affected.

These routes should be overlaid on a demographic map of the service area, in order to study and better understand who the affected populations will be.

When reporting the Service Equity Analysis, regardless of how the transit provider calculates the population base, each service change analysis must compare existing service to proposed changes, and calculate the absolute change as well as the percent change.

The calculated percentage and absolute changes will then be analyzed by applying the transit agency’s adverse effects definition and disparate impact threshold. This will help determine whether the proposed service change will result in a disparate impact. This data should be reported in tabular format.

If the transit provider finds potential disparate impacts and makes modifications in order to avoid, mitigate, or minimize them, they then need to reanalyze the proposed changes in order to determine whether the modifications actually removed the potential disparate impacts.

The transit provider may choose not to alter its proposed service changes, despite finding a potential disparate impact. This is only permissible if the transit provider can give a substantial legitimate justification and there are no alternatives that would have less of a disparate impact.

The provider still needs to analyze alternatives to determine whether they result in less of a disparate impact than the original proposal. The provider then must implement the least discriminatory alternative.

When the transit provider identifies a disparate impact, they should always provide an opportunity for public comment on any proposed mitigation measures, including the less discriminatory alternatives that may be available.

In addition to the Service Equity Analysis for minority populations, the transit provider needs to also conduct a Service Equity Analysis for Low-Income Populations.

The definition for a major service change policy and adverse effects are the same for both groups.

Like the disparate impact policy, a transit provider needs to develop the disproportionate burden policy. This defines the statistically significant disparity between low-income and non-low-income populations as presented as a percentage of the impacts borne and applied uniformly across all income groups.

The dataset used for the Service Equity Analysis for minority populations, either ridership or population, should also be used for the Service Equity Analysis for low-income population.

This analysis compares the existing service to proposed service, and calculates the absolute change as well as the percent change. Transit providers then determine whether their proposed change will result in a disproportionate burden.

This is done by comparing the proportion of low-income populations adversely affected to non-low-income populations adversely affected.

Note that the minority population is excluded in this calculation and that the service change analysis is expressed as a percent change in tabular format.

If low-income populations bear a disproportionate burden from proposed major service change, transit providers should take steps to avoid, minimize, or mitigate impacts where practical. They should also describe alternatives available to low-income passengers affected by the service changes.

Another Title VI requirement is conducting a Fare Equity Analysis, which applies to all fare changes whether it is an increase or decrease in fare or fare medium or structure change.

As with the Service Equity Analysis, FTA requires transit providers to evaluate whether a fare changes results in a disparate impact or a disproportionate burden.

If a provider wants to increase or decrease fares, alter certain transit modes, change fare payment type, or change fare media, they should use ridership data collected from a survey.

The ridership data determines whether minority and low-income riders are disproportionately more likely to use the mode of service, payment type, or payment media that is proposed to be changed. Ridership data is more effective in providing information since Census data does not convey what type of fare people use.

Just like a Service Equity Analysis, in reporting the analysis, providers need to describe the datasets used as well as techniques and technologies used to collect the data.

To conduct the actual analysis, transit providers need to do the following:

  • Determine the number and percent of users of each fare media being changed
  • Compare fares before and after the change
  • Compare the difference between minority users and majority users for each particular fare method
  • Compare the difference between low-income users and overall users for each particular fare method

After the analysis is complete, transit providers then assess impacts. Transit providers should evaluate separately the impact of proposed fare changes on minority and low-income populations.

Transit providers need to develop a policy for measuring disparate impact and determine whether minority riders are bearing a disparate impact between the existing cost and the proposed cost.

When evaluating minority populations versus non-minority populations, the disparate impact can be defined as a statistical percentage, must be applied uniformly regardless of fare media, and cannot be altered until the next Title VI Program Plan submission.

If a transit provider finds a disparate impact and modifies the proposed fare changes, the transit provider must then reanalyze the proposed changes to determine if the modification actually eliminates the disparate impact.

To make this showing, transit providers must look at alternatives to determine whether those alternatives would have less of a disparate impact and then implement the least discriminatory alternative.

If a transit provider chooses not to alter the proposed fare change despite a disparate impact on minority ridership, a transit provider can do so only if there is a substantial and legitimate justification for the proposed fare change and there are no alternatives that would have a less disparate impact. If the provider’s substantial legitimate justification for not altering their proposed change is not supported in the equity analysis, the disparate impacts violate Title VI regulation. The provider needs to submit factual support to justify the disparate impacts. Otherwise the provider must revisit the fare change and make adjustments.

When the provider identifies a disparate impact, they need to inform the public. This gives the public a chance to comment on any proposed mitigation measures, including less discriminatory alternatives.

Transit providers need to develop a Fare Equity Analysis policy to measure the burden of fare changes on low-income riders. This is necessary to determine when low-income riders are bearing a disproportionate burden between the existing fare and the proposed fare change.

After the conclusion of the analysis, if a transit provider finds that low-income populations will bear a disproportionate burden, they should take steps to avoid or mitigate the impacts. They should also describe alternatives available to low-income populations affected by the fare changes.

When conducting a Fare Equity Analysis for low-income populations, the impact may be defined in a statistical percentage; the disproportionate burden must be applied uniformly regardless of fare media, and cannot be altered until the next Title VI Program Plan submission.

If a transit provider has or is about to implement a New Start, Small Start, or other new Fixed Guideway capital project, then they must conduct a Service and Fare Equity Analysis at least six months before the beginning of revenue operations, whether or not the proposed changes rise to the level of a major service change.

All proposed changes to parallel or connecting service must also be examined. If the transit provider is operating the capital project and someone else is building it, then the provider is responsible for the analysis. The service equity analysis must include a comparative analysis of service levels before and after the completion of the capital project and this analysis must be depicted in tabular format.

The purpose of this analysis is to determine whether the proposed service changes, which are a result of the capital project, will lead to a disparate impact and/or disproportionate burden.

For all four types of analysis, when the research and data gathering is complete, the transit provider’s governing entity needs to be briefed on the equity impacts. The approved Service or Fare Equity Analysis, including documentation that supports the governing entity’s consideration, awareness, and approval of the analysis, is submitted with the next scheduled Title VI Program submission.

As a Federal Agency, FTA is charged with upholding Title VI and uses service and fare equity analysis to ensure that neither minority nor low- income populations are discriminated against in the use and service of public transit.

Upon request, FTA can provide technical assistance related to methodology and analysis prior to any action being taken by transit provider’s governing body.

FTA encourages transit providers to contact their FTA Regional Civil Rights Officer for technical assistance for a Service or Fare Equity Analysis.