Feds Say MBTA Is Fine Without Equity-Focused Study Of Orange Line Shutdown

Photo: WBZ NewsRadio Staff

BOSTON (State House News Service) — The federal agency overseeing the MBTA said the T did not need to conduct an equity analysis ahead of the 30-day Orange Line closure despite allegations from a civil rights group that the shutdown was "illegal and discriminatory."

After Lawyers for Civil Rights on Wednesday criticized the upheaval inflicted on communities of color and asked federal officials to review the MBTA's compliance with anti-discrimination law, the Federal Transit Administration indicated the T's approach was within bounds when it comes to examining disproportionate impacts.

An FTA spokesperson told the News Service that agencies are not required to perform equity analyses for temporary line closures. While they are expected to do that research ahead of major service changes to comply with Title VI, any changes lasting less than 12 months for construction, rehabilitation or emergency repairs are exempt, the spokesperson said.

LCR alleged the MBTA failed to sufficiently study whether its Orange Line shutdown would create undue and excess harm to riders of color. Gaps in service and other issues have been addressed "in a haphazard, last-minute fashion" by the T, the civil rights group contended.

The other two federal offices LCR contacted in its open letter, the U.S. Department of Transportation and U.S. Attorney Rachael Rollins, did not respond to News Service requests for comment on Wednesday.

Written by Chris Lisinski/SHNS

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