An African-American advocacy group has filed a civil rights complaint with the Federal Transit Authority against Metro for its proposed 25-cent bus fare increase.
The complaint, filed by a group called Power to the People, alleges “racial and socio-economic discrimination” by the Metro Transit Authority, the Tennessee Department of Transportation, the Metro Planning Organization and the Regional Transit Authority.
Power to the People is seeking a suspension of all federal funds to those four governmental agencies. The complaint also asks the FTA and the U.S. Department of Transportation to put a stop to the proposed rate hike in addition to the elimination of the seven MTA bus routes.
MTA has proposed a 25-cent hike, raising its fare to $1.60, in addition to the elimination of seven lesser-used routes. The increase and route reduction come at a time when MTA says it is faced with an estimated $2.9 million budget shortfall because of a cut in its Metro budget and soaring diesel fuel costs.
The complaint says MTA did not have sufficient public meetings (it held a total of five) on the issue of a fare increase. It also alleges that MTA does not sufficiently provide information on public meetings to low-income and minority riders.
Additionally, Power to the People alleges that Tennessee does not support public transportation enough — offering $400 million annually in highway maintenance and just $40 million in public transit funds, according to the complaint.
An MTA spokeswoman said they were not aware of the complaint.