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Title VI Program and Compliance Report

Public Transportation Department

Fort Bend County, Texas

December 2009

Revised March 2010

TEXAS TRANSPORTATION INSTITUTE

The Texas A&M University System

College Station, Texas 77843-3135

DISCLAIMER

This report was prepared with funds provided from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT). The contents of this report reflect the views of the authors, who are responsible for the facts and the accuracy of the data presented herein. The contents do not necessarily reflect the official view or policies of the FTA or TxDOT.

Appendix A Title VI Demographic Analysis - Fort Bend County Public Transportation Appendix B Language Spoken at Home in Fort Bend County

Appendix C Presentations by Fort Bend County Public Transportation Department Appendix D Public Outreach - Primary Target and Outcome

Appendix E Title VI Complaint Form

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INTRODUCTION

Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is the federal law that protects individuals and groups from discrimination on the basis of race, color, and national origin in programs and activities that receive federal financial assistance. Title VI established a standard that outlawed discrimination in the conduct of all federal activities. Another concern was that high and adverse environmental impacts of private or governmental actions might fall disproportionately on populations protected by Title VI. With this concern in mind, Executive Order 12898 was issued in 1994 to establish requirements for environmental justice to ensure that everyone within the U.S. receives equal protection under the law. Executive Order 12898 directed each federal agency to review its procedures and to make environmental justice part of its mission by identifying and addressing the effect of all programs, policies, and activities on minority populations.

All programs and activities of entities that receive federal financial assistance must also comply with Executive Order 13166 “Improving Access to Services for Persons with Limited English Proficiency.” All recipients of federal funds must take reasonable steps to ensure that limited English proficient (LEP) persons have meaningful access to its programs, services, and information provided. Persons who do not speak English as their primary language and have a limited ability to read, speak, write, or understand English may be considered LEP.

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) issued Title VI Regulations (49 CFR part 21) to ensure that no person is excluded from or denied the benefits of, or otherwise subjected to discrimination, on the grounds of race, color, or national origin, under any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance from the DOT. The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) is an agency within the DOT that provides financial and technical assistance to state and local public transit systems. FTA Circular 4702.1A provides recipients of FTA financial assistance with guidance and instructions necessary to carryout the DOT Title VI Regulations and to integrate into their programs and activities principles of environmental justice and access to services for persons with limited English proficiency.

The Fort Bend County Public Transportation Department is a recipient of federal funds from the FTA and must follow the guidance included in FTA Circular 4702.1A. This report serves two purposes: 1) to provide an assessment of current compliance by Fort Bend County with the requirements of Title VI pursuant to FTA Circular 4702.1A; and 2) to establish procedures for future Title VI compliance.

This document is organized into seven sections following this introduction. The material covered in each section is described as follows:

Section 1 provides an overview for the guidance and instructions in FTA Circular 4702.1.A.

Section 2 includes information about the population demographics for Fort Bend County and highlights the transit services and programs sponsored by the Fort Bend County Public Transportation Department.

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SECTION 1. FTA GUIDANCE AND INSTRUCTIONS

The purpose of this section is to provide an overview for the guidance and instructions in FTA Circular 4702.1.A. The circular applies to all recipients of FTA financial assistance. Compliance with the guidance and instructions is addressed in Sections 3 through 7 of this document.

OBJECTIVES

Consistent with DOT Title VI Regulations and the principles of environmental justice and access to services for persons with limited English proficiency, the FTA Circular 4702.1A sets forth the following objectives:

Ensure that the level and quality of transportation service is provided without regard to race, color, or national origin;

Identify and address, as appropriate, disproportionately high and adverse human health and environmental effects, including social and economic effects of programs and activities on minority populations and low-income populations;

Promote the full and fair participation of all affected populations in transportation decision making;

Prevent the denial, reduction, or delay in benefits related to programs and activities that benefit minority populations or low-income populations; and

Ensure meaningful access to programs and activities by persons with limited English proficiency.

GENERAL REQUIREMENTS

The Fort Bend County Public Transportation Department must follow FTA Circular 4702.1.A general requirements to ensure that programs, policies, and activities comply with DOT Title VI Regulations. These requirements include:

Submit an annual Title VI assurance as part of the annual Certification and Assurance to FTA;

Notify beneficiaries of protection under Title VI;

Develop Title VI complaint procedures for investigating and tracking Title VI complaints and make procedures for filing a complaint available to members of the public;

Prepare and maintain a list of any active Title VI investigations, complaints, and lawsuits conducted by entities other than FTA; and

Ensure meaningful access to LEP persons by developing and carrying out a language implementation plan.

FTA requires the Fort Bend County Public Transportation Department to conduct an annual review to ensure Title VI compliance and to prepare and submit a Title VI Program to FTA every three years. The program is required to include the following information:

Evidence of notice to the public that the Public Transportation Department complies with Title VI and instructions to the public on how to file a discrimination complaint;

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The following list is the FTA Circular 4702.1A program-specific guidance for recipients that provide transit service in a large urban area:

Collect demographic data and produce maps showing the extent to which members of minority groups and low-income populations are beneficiaries of transit services;

Monitor transit service throughout the county through analysis of surveys and demographic data;

Adopt quantitative system-wide service standards to guard against discriminatory service design or operations decisions;

Adopt system-wide service policies necessary to guard against service design and operational policies that have disparate impacts; and

Evaluate significant system wide service and fare changes and proposed improvements at the planning and programming stages to determine whether those changes have discriminatory impact.

The Fort Bend County Public Transportation Department is required to document compliance with the program-specific requirements of Title VI for agencies that serve large urban areas. Compliance is documented in a report to FTA every three years.

REQUIREMENTS FOR CONSTRUCTION PROJECTS

The primary law governing the FTA environmental protection process is the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1969 (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.), as amended. Many different federal laws, rules, and regulations govern environmental review of federally assisted mass transportation projects. NEPA establishes protection of the environment as a national priority and mandates that environmental impacts must be considered before any federal action likely to significantly affect the environment is undertaken. Other special purpose statutes and procedures may apply as well, depending on specific circumstances, e.g., protective measures for historic properties, wetlands, floodplains, etc. If related environmental review requirements apply, they are to be undertaken as part of the NEPA compliance process.

The process for complying with NEPA and federal surface transportation statutes is defined in the joint Federal Highway Administration/ FTA Environmental Impact and Related Procedures (23 C.F.R 771). The regulation sets forth the agencies' policy of combining all environmental analyses and reviews into a single process. It defines the roles and responsibilities of FTA and its grant applicants in preparing documents, and in managing the environmental process within the various project development phases. http://www.fta.dot.gov/documents/NEPA_reg_clean.pdf

Applicants intending to apply for federal transit funding should notify FTA at the time a project concept is identified. Once the applicant has furnished sufficient information and documentation, FTA will advise the applicant of the probable class of action and the related level of documentation required in the NEPA process. Recipients and sub-recipients of federal funding for construction projects should integrate an environmental justice analysis into the NEPA documentation. Recipients are not required to conduct environmental justice analyses of projects where NEPA documentation is not required.

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SECTION 2. OVERVIEW OF FORT BEND COUNTY

The purpose of this section is to provide an overview of the population demographics for Fort Bend County and to highlight the transit services provided by the Fort Bend County Public Transportation Department.

POPULATION DEMOGRAPHICS IN FORT BEND COUNTY

Fort Bend County is located along the Gulf Coast region of Texas, within the Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown metropolitan area, the sixth-largest metropolitan area in the United States with a population of 5.7 million as of the 2008 U.S. Census estimate. Fort Bend County represents just less than 10 percent of the total population in the metropolitan area.

Population Growth

The population of Fort Bend County has grown significantly since 1990, as shown in Table 1. The county’s 2000 population was 354,452; the U.S. Census Bureau estimates the county’s population as 532,141 in 2008, a 50 percent increase in eight years.

Table 1. Population in Fort Bend County.

Source: U.S. Census 2000

The growth from 1990 to 2008 represents a 136 percent increase. The Texas State Data Center estimates by 2020 the population in Fort Bend County could reach 770,000.

Urban and Rural Fort Bend County

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 886 square miles, of which, 875 square miles is land and 11 square miles is water. The average population density was 400 persons per square mile in 2000 and 600 persons per square mile in 2008. Geographically, large portions of the county are rural; however, cities are growing rapidly.

Most of the population of Fort Bend County falls within the Houston urbanized area (see Figure 1). In 2000, the Fort Bend County population was 354,452, and 316,561 or 89.3 percent was in the urbanized area. The remaining population 37,891 or 10.7 percent was in rural Fort Bend County.

Diversity

Fort Bend County is diverse as reflected in racial and ethnic population demographics. Table 2 identifies the population in Fort Bend County by race and ethnicity. The data for 2000 are based on the U.S. Census decennial survey. The data for 2008 are from the U.S. Census American

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Table 3. Incorporated Cities in Fort Bend County.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau

(a)Katy is incorporated in Harris County, with portions in Fort Bend County and Waller County

(b)Missouri City is incorporated in Fort Bend County, with portions in Harris County

Poverty

Under the federal guidelines for environmental justice, low-income population means a person whose median household income is at or below the poverty guidelines. In 2000, about 25,000 persons in Fort Bend County (7.1 percent of the total population) were living below the poverty level. While the poverty level in Fort Bend County is well below the state of Texas (15.4 percent) and Harris County (15 percent), the number of individuals living below the poverty level has increased from 7.1 percent in 2000 to 8.2 percent (about 44,000 persons) according to the American Community Survey (ACS) 2006-2008.

Seniors and Persons with a Disability

The focus of federal Title VI regulations is not on demographics of age and disability. However, the Fort Bend County Public Transportation Department does develop services that are responsive to the needs of seniors (persons age 65 and over) and persons with a disability.

Approximately 5.7 percent of all persons residing in Fort Bend County in 2000 were 65 years of age or older. This compares with the senior population for the state of Texas at 9.9 percent and Harris County at 7.4 percent. The Fort Bend County ACS estimate for 2006-2008 is 6.5 percent persons 65 years of age or older.

Based on Census 2000 for Fort Bend County, 14.5 percent of civilian, non-institutionalized persons over age 5 reported a disability. The data are not available from ACS for more recent years. The 2000 estimate of persons with a disability in Fort Bend County compares to 18.5 percent for the state of Texas and 19.2 percent for Harris County.

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The Public Transportation Department also provides New Freedom public transportation services. New Freedom is a transportation program dedicated to people with disabilities who live in rural areas. New Freedom provides reserved bus service in the mornings and afternoons, Monday through Friday (excluding Fort Bend County holidays) and the fare is $1.00 for each one-way trip. An attendant may accompany a passenger in need of assistance, free of charge. The New Freedom program also includes bus stop monitors and passenger attendants to assist passengers who cannot travel independently.

Fort Bend County also provides transportation services to assist private nonprofit groups in meeting the transportation needs of seniors and persons with disabilities. Funds from FTA Section 5310 are used to contract for services. The county also assists human service agencies to provide transportation for seniors to congregate meal programs and other activities at senior centers in Fort Bend County.

Figure 2 illustrates the locations for regional public transportation services from Fort Bend County to destinations in Harris County. The regional destinations include Greenway Plaza, Uptown/Galleria, and METRO West Bellfort Park & Ride for TREKEXPRESS and the Texas Medical Center for shared ride, demand response public transportation.

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SECTION 3. ASSESSMENT OF TRANSIT SERVICES

On behalf of the Fort Bend County Public Transportation Department, the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI) collected demographic data and produced maps showing the extent to which areas of concentration of minority groups, low-income populations, and persons with limited English- proficiency have access to public transportation services. The Public Transportation Department also sponsored a survey of users of commuter bus services to document demographic characteristics of riders.

This section will discuss the sources and types of data used for the assessment of transit services. Maps illustrating the outcomes of the assessment are also presented. Appendix A of this report presents data tables.

DEMOGRAPHIC INFORMATION

Demographic information from Census 2000 provides the data to determine if members of minority groups, low-income populations, and persons with limited English-proficiency have access to public transportation services in compliance with Title VI. The assessment also includes two demographic groups not required by the Title VI guidelines: seniors and persons with disabilities. These are important target populations for transit service in Fort Bend County.

Geographic Areas

Census data are available at two categories of geographic area: census tracts and census block groups. Census tracts are small, relatively permanent statistical subdivisions of a county. The primary purpose of census tracts is to provide a stable set of geographic units for the presentation of decennial census data. Census tracts generally have between 1,500 and 8,000 people, with an optimum size of 4,000 people. The spatial size of census tracts varies widely depending on the density of settlement. Census tracts are identified by a four-digit basic number.

Figure 3 illustrates a map of Fort Bend County showing the locations of major highways and incorporated cities. The numbers indicate census tracts.

A census block group is a cluster of census blocks having the same first digit of their four-digit identifying numbers within a census tract. For example, block group 3 within a census tract includes all blocks numbered from 3000 to 3999. Block groups generally contain between 600 and 3,000 people, with an optimum size of 1,500 people.

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Demographic Data

Below is a list of the Census 2000 demographic data used for the assessment of transit service with a short description and the geographic level used for the assessment.

Minority Population – For the purposes of this assessment, minority population is defined as race or ethnicity other than non-Hispanic white. The data are reported by census block group as a percent of population that is minority.

Households Below Poverty Level Low-income population is defined by household income below poverty level in 1999 (data collected by Census 2000). The data are reported by census block group as a percent of households below poverty status.

LEP Population – LEP are those persons over 5 years of age who speak English “not well” or not at all. The data are reported by census block group as a percent of population over 5 years of age.

Households Linguistically Isolated – Limited English proficiency is also defined as all households in which no member of the household 14 years and over speaks English “very well.” The data are reported by census block group as a percent of households that are linguistically isolated.

Language Spoken at Home – Nation of origin is not a demographic specifically provided by Census 2000 data. For the purposes of this analysis, the population that speaks a language other than English at home identifies the nation of origin. The data are reported by census tract as population 5 years and over in which a language other than English is spoken at home. Research describing languages other than English spoken at home in Fort Bend County is discussed in Section 4 of this report.

Senior Population – Senior population is defined as persons 65 years of age or older. The data are reported by census block group as a percent of population that is 65 years of age or older.

Persons with a Disability – The data for persons with a disability are reported by census block as a percent of the civilian, non-institutionalized population at least 5 years of age as of Census 2000. A person with a disability has any of the following three conditions:

1.Five years old and over and reported a long-lasting sensory, physical, mental or self- care disability;

2.Sixteen years old and over and reported difficulty going outside the home because of a physical, mental, or emotional condition lasting six months or more; or

3.Sixteen to 64 years old and reported difficulty working at a job or business because of a physical, mental, or emotional condition lasting six months or more.

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Figure 4. Transit Passenger Home Addresses and Population Density

by Census Block in Fort Bend County.

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Minority Population

In Figure 5 census block groups are mapped with both demand response and TREKEXPRESS home addresses overlaid. The highlighted census block groups are above the county average percent minority population of 53.8 percent. The distribution of home addresses within the highlighted areas indicates that transit user home addresses are within census block groups with higher percent minority population than the county average.

Figure 5. Transit Passenger Home Addresses and Concentrations of Minority Population.

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LEP Population

In Figure 7 transit passenger home origins are compared to the census block groups that are above the county average 5.1 percent LEP population. The distribution of home origins within the highlighted areas indicates that transit user home addresses are within census block groups with higher concentrations of LEP population than the county average.

Figure 7. Transit Passenger Home Addresses and Concentrations of LEP Population.

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Population 65 Years and Older

Figure 9 displays block groups within Fort Bend County with a percent of population 65 years of age and over that is greater than the county average 5.6 percent. Senior population is not specifically addressed by the Title VI objectives but represents an important target market for the demand response services provided by Fort Bend County Public Transportation.

Figure 9. Transit Passenger Home Addresses and Concentrations of

Population 65 Years and Older.

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TRANSIT PASSENGER SURVEY FOR TREKEXPRESS

FTA Circular 4702.1A provides guidance for recipients of federal funding that provide transit service to geographic areas with a population of 200,000 people or greater. The circular calls for periodic surveys to monitor transit service.

The Fort Bend County Public Transportation Department sponsored a survey of riders on the TREKEXPRESS service in May 2008. The purpose of the passenger survey was to collect information about fixed route transit passenger demographics, travel patterns and opinions of the service. The survey was conducted on two weekdays, May 27 and 28, 2008. A surveyor was assigned to each bus trip on the route to Uptown/Galleria the first day, and a surveyor was on each bus trip to Greenway Plaza the second day.

The survey method was a self-administered survey distributed to each passenger as he or she boarded a TREKEXPRESS bus for the AM inbound trip. Passengers were asked to complete the survey and return it to the surveyor at the end of the bus trip. Table 5 shows the final survey results. Completed surveys were returned by 82 percent of all boarding passengers.

Table 5. TREKEXPRESS Boardings and Passenger Surveys by Route.

Source: TREKEXPRESS Passenger Survey May 2008

The TREKEXPRESS survey respondents provided demographic information about themselves and their household. Of all transit riders responding to the survey, 52 percent were male and 48 percent were female. The average age of all riders was 47 years. The youngest respondent to the survey was 20 years of age and the oldest was 73 years of age.

Table 6 summarizes the race and ethnicity of TREKEXPRESS passengers.

Table 6. TREKEXPRESS Survey Race and Ethnicity.

Source: TREKEXPRESS Passenger Survey May 2008

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Table 9. TREKEXPRESS Survey

How Often Do You Ride Transit?

Source: TREKEXPRESS Passenger Survey May 2008

An important reason for conducting the TREKEXPRESS passenger survey was to determine passenger opinion about transit services. Table 10 summarizes passenger opinions about four key indicators of service quality. Of all respondents to the survey, 97 percent to 99 percent strongly agreed or agreed that TREKEXPRESS service is on-time, safe, clean and drivers are friendly. TREKEXPRESS passenger opinion of service is very high in all categories.

Table 10. TREKEXPRESS Passenger Opinion of Service Quality.

Source: TREKEXPRESS Passenger Survey May 2008

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SECTION 4. ACCESS TO TRANSIT FOR PERSONS

WITH LIMITED ENGLISH PROFICIENCY

In previous statistical analyses of demographic characteristics by census block group, Fort Bend County identified the concentrations of population that have limited English proficiency. Two demographic variables were documented and mapped: LEP persons over 5 years of age who speak English not well or not at all and households that are linguistically isolated (no member of the household 14 years and over speaks English very well).

The purpose of this section is to look more specifically at what languages other than English are spoken at home by Fort Bend County residents and to gage the extent to which these populations may access transit services. The analysis will help the Fort Bend County Public Transportation Department to develop and carry out a language implementation plan.

Several sources of information were accessed to identify languages other than English that are most prevalent in Fort Bend County. Data from Census 2000 were analyzed to identify linguistically isolated households that speak Spanish. Census 2000 was also a source of data to identify the specific languages spoken at home. More recent data were collected from the largest school districts in Fort Bend County about languages spoken by “English as a Second Language” (ESL) students.

SPANISH LINGUISTICALLY ISOLATED HOUSEHOLDS

Table 11 compares the number of linguistically isolated households in Fort Bend County to the number of Spanish linguistically isolated households (meaning Spanish is the language spoken by the household). Spanish is the language spoken in 63 percent of linguistically isolated households.

Table 11. Fort Bend County Linguistically Isolated Households.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Census 2000

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Spanish Spoken at Home

Figure 11 shows the census tracts where the percent of the population over age 5 who speak Spanish at home is greater than the county average 17.6 percent. The distribution of transit passenger home origins within the highlighted areas indicates that Fort Bend public transportation services are accessed within census tracts where a higher percent of the population speak Spanish at home.

Figure 11. Transit Passenger Home Addresses and Concentrations of

Population that Speak Spanish at Home.

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Vietnamese Spoken at Home

Figure 13 shows the census tracts where the percent of the population over age 5 speak Vietnamese at home is greater than the county average 1.6 percent. Just as reflected by the analysis of the population that speak Chinese at home, Fort Bend public transportation services are accessed within census tracts where a higher percent of the population speak Vietnamese at home.

Figure 13. Transit Passenger Home Addresses and Concentrations of

Population that Speak Vietnamese at Home.

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SECTION 5. TITLE VI POLICIES AND PROCEDURES

According to the guidance provided by FTA Circular 4702.1, the Fort Bend County Public Transportation Department must ensure that programs, policies, and activities comply with DOT Title VI Regulations.

The purpose of this section is to present a statement of policy for compliance with Title VI, instructions for how a member of the public may file a discrimination complaint, and procedures for tracking and investigating Title VI complaints. The Public Transportation Department has a responsibility to provide public notice to the beneficiaries of its public transportation services of protection under Title VI.

TITLE VI STATEMENT OF POLICY FOR PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION

Fort Bend County is committed to a policy of non-discrimination in the conduct of its business, including the Title VI responsibility to deliver equitable and accessible transportation services. Fort Bend County officially formed the Public Transportation Department in June 2005 to provide residents with safe and efficient public transportation services while maintaining service quality and customer satisfaction.

The Public Transportation Department recognizes its responsibility to the Fort Bend County community in which it operates and to the society it serves. The Public Transportation Department will utilize its best efforts to assure that no person shall, on the grounds of race, color, or national origin, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under the Fort Bend County program of transit service delivery and related benefits. Further, the Public Transportation Department will utilize best efforts to provide equitable and accessible public transportation services to persons of low income and persons with limited English proficiency.

In order to comply with the Title VI requirements, the Public Transportation Department strives to accomplish the following objectives:

Ensure that the level and quality of transportation service is provided without regard to race, color or national origin;

Identify and address, as appropriate, disproportionately high and adverse human health and environmental effects, including social and economic effects of programs and activities on minority populations and low-income populations;

Promote the full and fair participation of all affected populations in transportation decision making;

Prevent the denial, reduction or delay in benefits related to programs and activities that benefit minority populations or low-income populations; and

Ensure meaningful access to programs and activities by persons with limited English proficiency.

The responsibility for carrying out Fort Bend County’s commitment to Title VI responsibilities rests with the Director of the Public Transportation Department. All managers, supervisors, and

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Upon completion of the investigation, the Assistant Director will complete a final report and deliver it to the Director of Public Transportation. If a Title VI violation is found to exist, remedial steps as appropriate and necessary will be taken immediately. The complainant will also receive a final report together with any remedial steps. The investigation process and final report should take no longer than twenty-five (25) business days. If no violation is found and the complainant wishes to appeal the decision, he or she may appeal directly to the Director of Public Transportation, 12550 Emily Court, Suite 400, Sugar Land, TX 77478.

The Assistant Director will maintain a log of Title VI complaints received from this process which shall include the date the complaint was filed; a summary of the allegations; the status of the complaint; and actions taken by the Department of Public Transportation in response to the complaint. Should Fort Bend County receive a Title VI complaint in the form of a formal charge or lawsuit, the complaint will be forwarded to the Fort Bend County Attorney.

Complaints may also be filed with the following organization no later than 180 days after the date of the alleged discrimination:

Federal Transit Administration’s Office of Civil Rights

Attention: Title VI Program Coordinator

East Building, 5th Floor - TCR 1200 New Jersey Ave., SE Washington, DC 20590 202-366-4018 http://www.fta.dot.gov/civilrights/title6/civil_rights_5104.html

The Assistant Director will prepare and maintain a list of any active Title VI investigations, complaints, and lawsuits conducted by entities other than FTA.

PUBLIC NOTICE

The Fort Bend County Public Transportation Department is responsible for notifying the public and beneficiaries of public transportation services of protection under Title VI and providing instructions on how to file a discrimination complaint.

To notify the public and beneficiaries of public transportation services of protection under Title VI, the Public Transportation Department will do the following:

Post the Title VI policy statement, instructions on how to file a complaint, and access to the complaint form on the departmental website.

Post the Title VI policy statement and instructions on how to file a complaint in the office of the Public Transportation Department.

Include the Title VI policy statement and instructions on how to file a complaint in a published format (flyer, brochure) that can be available at public outreach events and distributed to transit users.

Disseminate the Title VI information to all employees.

All material will be provided in English and Spanish.

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SECTION 6. PUBLIC INFORMATION ABOUT TRANSIT SERVICES AND

LEP PLAN

The Fort Bend County Public Transportation Department is committed to ensuring meaningful access to programs and activities by persons with limited English proficiency, as required by FTA Circular 4702.1.

This section has two purposes. The first purpose is to document the types of public information about transit services currently provided by the Public Transportation Department and to summarize public outreach and involvement activities to reach out to target markets including minority and low-income people, seniors, and persons with disabilities. The second purpose is to document a proposed approach to ensure meaningful access to persons with limited English proficiency by providing more bilingual information.

SUMMARY OF CURRENT PUBLIC OUTREACH AND INVOLVEMENT

The Fort Bend County Public Transportation Department provides public outreach pamphlets in both English and Spanish. The Public Transportation Department also provides public information about transit services in English via the following media.

TTY for the

Hearing Impaired: 281-494-7160 Administrative Offices

281-243-6781 Reservations

TREKEXPRESS commuter transit services. Public information is available in English from the following website or by telephone or email:

Internet Website: http://www.co.fort-bend.tx.us/getsitepage.asp?sitePage=23544

Telephone:281-633-7433

Fax:281-243-6710

Email:Transit@co.fort-bend.tx.us

The Fort Bend County Public Transportation Department engages in public outreach in order to attract ridership and inform others of transit services. Outreach takes the form of presentations, open houses, information tables, group discussions, posters, and pamphlets. Pamphlets are available in Spanish. Public involvement activities occur at churches, schools, community centers, governmental agencies, chambers of commerce, and agencies that provide human and

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The Public Transportation Department has developed a language implementation plan to ensure meaningful access to LEP persons (see LEP Plan below).

FOUR FACTOR ANALYSIS

In developing the language implementation plan, the Fort Bend County Public Transportation Department undertook a U.S. DOT “four factor” LEP analysis. A brief description of each factor and pertinent considerations are provided in the following discussion.

1.The number or proportion of LEP persons eligible in the Fort Bend County service area who maybe served or likely to encounter a Public Transportation Department program, activity, or service.

As documented in Sections 4 and 5 of this report, Spanish is the language other than English most often used by residents of Fort Bend County. Almost 18 percent of the Fort Bend County population over age 5 speaks Spanish at home. This compares to 3 percent who speak Chinese and 1.6 percent who speak Vietnamese at home. Among ESL students in local school districts, the number of students whose native language is Urdu is growing, but still less than 1 percent of students.

2.The frequency with which LEP individuals come in contact with a Public Transportation Department program, activity, or service.

The Fort Bend County Public Transportation Department assesses the frequency with which staff and drivers have or could possibly have contact with LEP persons. This includes documenting phone inquiries and verbally surveying drivers. The occasions when information is requested in another language are infrequent; however, when a request is made, the request is for information in Spanish.

3.The nature and importance of the program, activity, or service provided by the Public Transportation Department.

Public transportation is the means of travel to work, getting to medical appointments or to attend school and achieve general mobility for many LEP persons. The Public Transportation Department partners with numerous community organizations and social and human service agencies to provide transit services. The Fort Bend County Public Transportation Department will collaborate with all organizations and agencies in the service area to seek public input, hold public meetings, and assist in advising all LEP persons of the types of language assistance and public transportation services that can be provided.

4.The resources available to the Public Transportation Department and overall costs.

The Public Transportation Department continuously assesses its available resources that could be used for providing LEP assistance. This includes determining the ability of members of the staff and drivers to speak another language (specifically, Spanish), identifying how much a professional interpreter and translation would cost on an as needed

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The Public Transportation Department will make available an English/Spanish interpreter for public meetings. The English/Spanish announcement for the public meeting will state that translation services will be provided if requested in advance.

If Public Transportation Department staff knows a presentation or other public outreach event will be held in a location with a known concentration of LEP persons, the staff will prepare meeting notices, fliers, advertisements, and/or agenda in a bilingual format.

Monitor Trends in Languages Other than English

The Fort Bend Public Transportation Department will use the following tools to identify who may need language assistance:

Examine records for language assistance from past meetings and events to anticipate the possible need for assistance at upcoming meetings.

When the Public Transportation Department sponsors workshops or conferences, the responsible staff member will set up a sign-in sheet and then assign someone to personally greet and briefly speak to each attendee. To informally gage the attendee’s ability to speak and understand English, the greeter will ask a question that requires a full sentence reply.

Talk with drivers and other first line staff on a continuing basis at employee meetings and during one-on-one conversations regarding their experience on having any direct or indirect contact with LEP individuals. Document responses to establish a trend line.

Ask reservation clerks and receptionists to document each time a call is received from a person who does not speak proficiently in English. Keep a log of experiences to establish a trend line.

Training for Staff

The Fort Bend County Public Transportation Department will provide staff with a copy of the LEP Plan and provide training for all employees including new hires. Training topics will include:

Understanding the Title VI policy and LEP responsibilities;

What language assistance services the Public Transportation Department offers;

Instructions on how to document language assistance requests; and

How to handle a Title VI or LEP complaint.

Monitoring and Updating the LEP Plan

The Fort Bend County Public Transportation Department will annually monitor and evaluate changes in LEP population through census data and school district ESL information to determine the growing incidence of other languages and potential need for language accommodation.

The LEP plan is designed to be flexible and can be easily updated. Each update should examine components such as the following:

How many LEP persons were encountered?

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SECTION 7. SERVICES STANDARDS AND POLICIES FOR TRANSIT IN

LARGE URBAN AREAS

According to the FTA Circular 4702.1A program-specific guidance for recipients that provide transit service in a large urban area, the Fort Bend County Public Transportation Department should adopt quantitative system-wide service standards and policies to guard against service design and operational policies that have disparate impacts. The department is also required to monitor transit service throughout the county through annual analysis of surveys and demographic data to ensure that minority groups and low-income populations are beneficiaries of transit services.

Every three years, the Fort Bend County Public Transportation Department is required to document compliance.

The purpose of this section is to document Fort Bend County compliance with the FTA Circular 4702.1A program-specific guidance for recipients that provide transit service in a large urban area.

SERVICE STANDARDS AND SERVICE POLICIES

Fort Bend County public transportation services are either demand response or commuter express bus. As a result, the service standards and policies have specific requirements, different from traditional service standards that include local fixed-route service. The following paragraphs include the service standards and service policies for the Fort Bend County Public Transportation Department.

Service Coverage

Coverage refers to the geographic area where transit services are provided.

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Load Factor

The “load factor” reflects the number of passengers divided by the seated capacity of the bus, reflected as a percentage.

Service Reliability (On-Time Performance)

On-time performance is a measure of service reliability.

Vehicle Assignment

Vehicle assignment refers to the process by which transit vehicles are placed into service throughout the system.

Standard: Buses are assigned to ensure the best match of vehicle specifications to the types of transit service to be provided. Vehicles will be assigned on the basis of safety, efficiency, and performance. Vehicle will not be assigned with the intent to provide preference or benefit to any geographic service area or any passenger.

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Assess the alternatives available for people affected by the major service or fare change.

Service Changes: For proposed service changes, the Public Transportation Department will analyze what, if any, modes of transit or transit services are available for people affected by the service expansion or reduction. This analysis will compare the travel time and cost of the current route with the travel time and cost to the passenger of the alternatives.

Fare Changes: For proposed fare changes, the Public Transportation Department will analyze what, if any, alternative transit modes, fare payment types, or fare payment media are available for people affected by the fare change. This analysis will compare the fares paid under the change with fares that would be paid through available alternatives.

Determine which, if any, of the proposals under consideration would have a disproportionately high and adverse effect on minority and low-income passengers.

Under FTA guidelines, Fort Bend County can implement a fare increase or major service change that would have disproportionately high and adverse effects on minority and low- income passengers provided the Public Transportation Department demonstrates that the action meets a substantial need that is in the public interest and that alternatives would have more severe adverse effects than the preferred alternative.

Identify plans to minimize, mitigate, or offset any adverse effects of proposed fare and service changes on minority and low-income populations.

ANNUAL REVIEW FOR TITLE VI COMPLIANCE

As a way to ensure Title VI compliance, the Fort Bend County Public Transportation Department will conduct an annual review to ensure Title VI compliance. The review will include the following steps:

Record of Complaints: The Public Transportation Department will investigate and track Title VI complaints according to the adopted procedures. Fort Bend County Public Transportation Department will maintain a list of any active investigations conducted by entities other than FTA, which includes lawsuits and complaints.

Ridership Data: The Public Transportation Department will monitor the location of passenger of transit services and compare to the most current demographic data to ensure no discriminatory service. The department will include questions to ascertain passenger characteristics for Title VI demographics in periodic surveys of transit riders.

Changes in Service: The Public Transportation Department will evaluate and modify any change in service in order to eliminate or mitigate adverse effects or discrimination that could occur as a result of the change. Changes in service include changes in routes, hours of operation, frequency of service, reduction of service, or elimination of service.

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REFERENCES

Title VI and Title VI-Dependent Guidelines for Federal Transit Administration Recipients, Federal Transit Administration Circular 4702.1A, May 13, 2007.

Implementing the Department of Transportation’s Policy Guidance Concerning Recipients’ Responsibilities to Limited English Proficient (LEP) Persons, A Handbook for Public Transportation Providers, Federal Transit Administration Office of Civil Rights, April 13, 2007.

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