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Center Identification Number:  576-12 


Project Title:  Case Studies in Environmental Justice and Public Transit Title VI Reporting


Co-Principal Investigators:


Beverly G. Ward, Ph.D.

Director for Ethnography and Transport Systems

(813) 974-9773 


Chandra A. Foreman, AICP

Research Associate

(813) 974-9793




Center for Urban Transportation Research

University of South Florida

Tampa, Florida


External Project Contact:                                                         


Amy Datz

Florida Department of Transportation

(850) 414-4239


I.  Project Objectives


To identify state and national examples of environmental justice solutions and Title VI reporting and implementation that demonstrate commitment to equitable distribution of public transportation resources.


II.  Project Abstract


In 1994, President Clinton signed an Executive Order that directed all federal agencies to examine and to avoid disproportionately high and adverse impacts on minority and low-income populations.  The policy has prompted, in the past decade, renewed interest in Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination in any federal program or federally-funded program, and applies to any agency that is the recipient of federal funds, including state and local agencies.

The topic of environmental justice has been identified as one of 11 priority areas for research by the Research and Technology Committee of the American Public Transportation Association (APTA).  At a meeting held at the Beckman Center at the University of California, Irvine, in February 2003, the Committee began exploring ways of collecting and disseminating information on environmental justice and transit, particularly case examples of environmental justice concerns and problem-solving.  (Case study is the research approach recommended by the International Association for Impact Assessment.)  The Committee developed a recommendation to pursue funding through the Transit Cooperative Research Program (TCRP) and the National Center for Transit Research at the Center for Urban Transportation Research (CUTR). 


In an earlier study funded by the National Center for Transit Research, the use of Title VI reporting was identified as a tool for assessing the impacts of transportation decisions, particularly as related to environmental justice.  Title VI Reports provide baseline information on the community where the action will take place.  This project will identify Florida and national examples of actions taken by transit agencies to prepare Title VI Reports.  Through case studies, the project also will identify those transit agencies that have addressed environmental justice issues and, consequently, made significant strides in improving the distribution of transit resources.  These case studies will provide examples of “best practices,” documenting the techniques used to achieve community buy-in and support.  This also will include examination of the necessary partnerships and relationships developed with communities and resource agencies.  The overall objective of this research is to provide examples of how the information available in the Title VI Report may be used to aid in addressing environmental justice concerns.


III.  Task Descriptions


This project will include five distinct tasks designed to achieve the objectives listed above.  Each task is described below.  Funding requested through NCTR will be used to support the work effort of Tasks 3, 4, and 5.


Task 1:  Review of Current Literature


The objective of this task is to conduct a thorough literature review, including legal cases, on the subject of equitable distribution of public transportation services and negative impacts primarily through the use of the Internet and public transportation periodicals.  In addition, the investigators will contact regional Federal Transit Administration (FTA) offices to gain details about transit agencies in each respective region that have effectively applied their Title VI plans or have successfully addressed environmental justice issues.


The investigators will review and summarize details of successful transit-related Title VI implementation activities and will assess how well such applications have been documented.  The literature review should also result in the creation of a database of transit agencies that have been acknowledged for effective application of Title VI and environmental justice strategies.  Results will be summarized in an annotated bibliography.


This task also will provide materials for the development of a primer or handbook that includes guidelines for transit agencies to use when drafting, implementing, and updating Title VI plans.  The primer, which will summarize the Title VI purpose and regulations, will provide transit agency staff with step-by-step strategies in completing or updating the Title VI plan.   Common errors in plan development will also be identified.

Deliverable:  Technical Memorandum Number One – including Annotated Bibliography


Task 2:  Develop and Administer Questionnaire to Transit Agencies Regarding their Environmental Justice Strategies and Title VI Applications


In this task, the investigators will develop and administer a survey questionnaire to determine the specific components of and effectiveness of transit-related environmental justice strategies and Title VI applications.  The survey will be administered to Florida and a sample of non-Florida transit agencies drawn from the National Transit Database and recommendations from FTA regional offices.  Care will be taken to ensure that the sample is representative.  Topics that will be addressed in the survey include components of the agency’s Title VI Report and specific implementation activities, goals of the implementation activities, effectiveness of the implementation activities, including application to environmental justice concerns, and challenges faced during development and administration of the implementation activities.  The survey also will solicit information on participants’ familiarity with the environmental justice orders, use of public involvement, and methods of addressing disproportionately high and adverse impacts, and examples of transit actions where environmental justice issues were addressed.  From the survey, targeted telephone interviews will be conducted.


The investigators will administer a web-based survey to those agencies that have electronic capabilities.  Otherwise, a paper survey will be administered.  The paper survey may be provided to the agencies via facsimile.


Task 3:  In-Person or Phone Interviews with Selected Transit Agencies


In this task, in-person or telephone interviews will be conducted with selected respondents to the electronic or written survey.  In-person interviews may be conducted in conjunction with other meetings to reduce costs.  The number of interviews will be dependent on the results of the previous tasks.


The goals of the interviews are to gather more specific information on the transit-related Title VI implementation and environmental justice activities.  Through the interviews, the investigators hope to identify what prompted the transit agency to implement its Title VI plan in the manner chosen.  In addition, the investigators will identify the stakeholders in the development and administration of the Title VI implementation activities; the obstacles faced while developing and administering the activities, as well as the solutions to the obstacles; and the communities’ impressions of the Title VI implementation activities and environmental justice concerns.


Through the interviews, copies of Title VI plans and written descriptions of the transit agencies’ specific Title VI implementation activities and response to environmental justice issues will be requested.


Task 4:  Interviews with Stakeholders


In this task, the investigators will select five to eight examples of successful Title VI implementation activities and develop a list of stakeholders to interview to learn their perceptions of the Title VI implementation activities, including environmental justice issues, and their effectiveness.  The stakeholders should include transit planners and administrators, residents and business owners, and local government or other resource agencies affected by the Title VI activities, and other community activists.  The interviews may be in the form of focus groups or other group interview process.  (It is anticipated there would be five to eight focus groups, equal to the number of selected examples.)  The transit agency staff will assist the investigators in identifying a pool of potential participants. The investigators will attempt to ensure that all points of view regarding the Title VI activity are represented in the group of interviewees. 


Deliverable:  Technical Memorandum Number Two – Summary of Survey, Interviews, and Focus Groups 


Task 5:  Identify Common Issues and Practices in Effective Title VI Implementation Activities and Successful Resolution of Environmental Justice Concerns and Develop Best Practices Report and Primer


In this final task, the investigators will compare the goals and strategies of the various transit agencies’ Title VI activities and identify commonalities that played a role in each activity’s effectiveness.  The research findings will be synthesized to develop a report of Case Studies in Environmental Justice and Public Transit Title VI Reporting.  The report will highlight programs that have been successful and will document challenges and strategies for overcoming the obstacles.  In addition, the report will offer recommendations, in the form of a primer, for other transit systems related to developing effective transit-related Title VI implementation applications.


As the information on each “case” is finalized, it will be posted to the World Wide Web.  Links may be provided from the National Center for Transit Research website and the Community Impact Assessment (CIA) website.  (One of the proposed principal investigators developed and maintains the CIA website).  One hundred printed copies of a final report, including a foreword, plus outtakes of quotations, sidebars, graphics, photos, and other design elements, also will be developed, when all the best practices report have been completed.


Deliverable:  Final Report –Cases Studies in Environmental Justice and Title VI Primer for Transit Agencies, including hard copy and electronic versions.


IV.  Project Schedule, Milestones


Project Start Date:  May 15, 2003 (TCRP)

                            November 1, 2003 (NCTR\FDOT)          















Task 1













Tech Memo 1













Task 2













Task 3













Task 4













Tech Memo 2













Task 5













Progress Reports













Final Report














V.  Project Budget


The estimated cost of undertaking this project is $125,000.  The National Center for Transit Research will contribute $100,000 toward the completion of the project, while the Transit Cooperative Research Program will contribute $25,000.


Case Studies in EJ and Public Transit Title VI Reporting

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Expendable Property/Supplies (includes audiocassette tapes, photocopying, printed materials, printing, shipping, toll calls, etc.)



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Note: The project team will include faculty, students, and secretarial and other support staff who

will work directly on the project and whose costs are reflected in the direct costs of the project

as listed above.


VI.  Student Involvement


Graduate students will be used to assist in the literature review and organizing and conducting surveys and interviews with transit agencies.  In addition, the graduate students will play an integral role in developing the technical memoranda and preparing materials for the websites and the final report. 


VII.  Relationship to Other Research Projects


The proposed project furthers research efforts to ensure that the social and cultural resources of communities are considered in transportation decisionmaking.  This project can provide information on how to ensure that the resources of low-income and minority communities are included in the process, effectively.  Several past projects have addressed the need for such consideration.  This proposal will provide guidance on how to use existing transit planning resources and examples of successful applications. 


VIII.  Technology Transfer Activities


The results of this analysis will be provided to the FDOT through a final report, as outlined above.  Copies of the final report will be provided to the Research Office, the State Public Transportation Administrator, and the Manager of the Transit Office.  Information also will be made available on the Community Impact Assessment and NCTR websites and through presentations at local and national conferences.


IX.  Potential Benefits of the Project


The benefits of the project include the identification of best practices in equitable distribution of transit resources.  Ultimately, the results of this project could provide transit agencies guidance on how to improve the effectiveness their Title VI plans through relevant and successful applications.


X.  TRB Keywords


Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, transit service equity, environmental justice, and social impacts.



National Center for Transit Research · at the Center For Urban Transportation Research · University of South Florida · 4202 E. Fowler Ave., CUT100 · Tampa, FL 33620-5375 · (813) 974-3120 · (813) 974-5168 · · Comments: