SacTRU has been fighting for free 90 minute transfers to be extended to cash fares for the past year. Currently riders who use smartphone apps or the connect card receive a free 90 minute transfers. A rider using one of these technologies would only pay $2.75 to make a trip with a transfer. A rider with a cash fare would pay $5.50 to make the same trip. The images above show that in the past year cash fares have increased by 2%. All of those riders have been denied access to the free 90 minute transfer. SacTRU thinks this unfairly discriminates against low-income communities of color and is a possible Title VI violation.
Title VI prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, or national origin in any program or activity that receives Federal funds or other Federal financial assistance. This prohibition applies to intentional discrimination as well as to procedures, criteria or methods of administration that appear neutral but have a discriminatory effect on individuals because of their race, color, or national origin. Policies and practices that have such an effect must be eliminated unless a recipient can show that they were necessary to achieve a legitimate nondiscriminatory objective.
We do not think a legitimate nondiscriminatory objective exists as to why some riders have been chosen to receive the free 90 minute transfer over other riders.
The map above shows sales outlets for the connect card, many of which are not easily accessible by public transit. Looking at the map you can see there are large portions of the low-income and minority communities who are uncovered by these sales locations. While the connect card and apps are available online, they are not sold at stations or on buses. Purchasing these alternative fares can be complicated and inaccessible to many riders.
SacTRU believes that ALL FARES should have access to the free 90 minute transfer. We have been told that the transition of riders from cash fares to the connect card will illuminate any possible discrimination. We find the trend in increasing cash fare revenue extremely concerning. We will continue to request that staff provide statistics on how low-income minority communities are accessing the connect card and mobile apps to make sure that the conversion rate is meeting targets. We urge the Board to direct staff to make all fares receive the 90 minute free transfer to prevent any unintentional discrimination based on race, color, or national origin.