FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 31, 2008
AUSTIN, Texas – An administrative complaint filed with the Department of Transportation and the Federal Transit Authority argues that Capital Metro’s proposed fare increases violate the Civil Rights Act.
The complaint, filed by Texas RioGrande Legal Aid (TRLA), the leading provider of legal aid in Texas, argues that Capital Metro’s proposed fare increases discriminate against low-income and minority riders. The complaint was filed on behalf of local nonprofit House the Homeless and two clients who live in the Austin area and are dependent on Capital Metro bus services.
“These increases will disproportionately affect low-income and disabled riders,” said TRLA attorney and Austin branch manager D’Ann Johnson. “If Capital Metro is facing budgetary problems, there are plenty of other solutions they can explore other than making the people dependent on their services pay higher prices.”
A 2005 Origin and Destination Study by Capital Metro found that seventy percent of riders are dependent on its services. Forty-five percent of their ridership live in households earning less than $30,000 a year.
TRLA is arguing that the increases violate Title VI of the Civil Rights Act which requires that the needs of low-income and minority populations are considered in transportation planning. A fare increase would disproportionately affect these groups.
“A fare increase would force a family already having trouble in today’s economy to cut back on other necessities so that they can get to work, school, and the grocery store,” added Johnson. “Capital Metro is taking advantage of low-income riders who have no choice but to ride the bus.”
Established in 1970, Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, Inc. (TRLA) is a nonprofit organization that provides free legal services to low-income and disadvantaged clients in a 68-county service area. TRLA’s mission is to promote the dignity, self-sufficiency, safety and stability of low-income Texas residents by providing high-quality legal assistance and related educational services.