Magazine article Poverty & Race

Guillermo Mayer

Magazine article Poverty & Race

Guillermo Mayer

Article excerpt

To combat structural racism in transportation, federal statutory and regulatory reforms are needed. Existing legal frameworks exclude communities of color and low-income populations from an equitable share in the benefits of transportation investments. Some of these barriers come in the guise of seemingly innocuous and "race-neutral" policies that so far have largely escaped Title VI and environmental justice scrutiny. One significant example is the capital-only restriction imposed by Congress on the use of federal transit dollars. This restriction has the effect of starving urban transit systems of the funding they need to operate existing and expanded transit service for their large transitdependent and minority populations. Instead, the restriction favors the construction of expensive, mostly rail, capital projects that generally benefit disproportionately white and affluent "choice riders." The biases inherent in these policies have been slowly unmasked over the years by advocates in places like the San Francisco Bay Area, and are now being exposed nationally by a timely convergence of environmental justice, labor, transit and equity advocates pursuing federal legislation to fund transit operations. …

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