From Honolulu Councilmember Tom Berg, October 12, 2012
City Reduction In Bus Service For Rail Could Be Federal Violation According To US Dept of Transportation Policy.
The Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation (HART) has exclaimed that it is a Civil Rights Issue that they spend millions of your tax dollars each year on propaganda to promote and sell rail - they call it, "Public Relations." I demanded HART stop its public relations scheme and in this letter - click here - you will read how HART stated they cannot cut back on the 9.5 positions they have on the payroll to promote the rail project because the federal government is mandating HART apprise minorities about the project. Do you really believe that?
If government were to abide by Civil Rights and Environmental Justice laws for transportation projects, then the state DOT, and city DTS would too, have a large public relations force promoting their projects to minorities - and they don't. The city's bike plan, the state's bike plan, a ferry plan if initiated, would all have a large public relations team promoting them based on Civil Rights and Environmental Justice laws - and the next time a road is widened or built, millions spent on public relations to alert minorities about the project would be transpiring as a Civil Rights mandate, and this simply is not the case.
Why do I make this an issue? Bus cuts are negatively affecting as some would describe it, the "economically disadvantaged (low income housing project areas), and the minority population." So when the city uses federal monies, certainly, bus service to minorities and the economically challenged is indeed a Civil Rights Issue . . . right? Would you deduce then that for the city to state spending millions on propaganda for a rail project not even running, not serving anyone, no service to the poor, or to minority populations, is mandated, then how can the city justify penalizing the poor and minority population with cuts to bus service that in turn is causing them undue economic cultural and environmental hardship?
Did the city discriminate against the economically disadvantaged population when it cut bus service to the most needy? Cut bus service to areas predominantly inhabited by native Hawaiians, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders? HART states that if they cut their propaganda machine, it would be a Civil Rights matter, and illegal. So what about applying that same exact policy to federally funded bus transit service? Are there any federal laws on that?
There are federal laws and policy that apparently apply that DTS should be in compliance with:
Nondiscrimination: Title VI and Environmental Justice
Environmental Justice Policy Guidance For Federal Transit Administration Recipients