Proposed Change to Guidelines

For burden and impact when evaluating transit service or fare changes

The Metropolitan Council is proposing to change the way transit service and fare changes are evaluated, which would result in a more inclusive evaluation process overall.

The policy, which details how planners will evaluate the federal Title VI category of Disparate Impact and Disproportionate Burden on people who identify in non-white population groups and experience low incomes, would be changed to require a 90%/10% threshold of impact, from the current standard of 80%/20%.

Why we’re proposing this change

We believe that to truly achieve equitable outcomes for our customers and communities, we need to change the standard and lower the threshold for disparate impacts or disproportionate burdens. This proposed policy recognizes that a difference of 10% or more is significant enough to trigger a deeper evaluation.

How it works

This policy identifies the threshold for evidence that the effects of a proposed transit fare change, major transit service change, or triennial monitoring review from the Federal Transit Administration have a disparate impact or disproportionate burden on people who identify as Black, Indigenous, or people of color (BIPOC) or people who are experiencing low incomes. The conditions that are evaluated include the following:

  • If the effects borne by the BIPOC population are not within 10% of the effects borne by the white population, then the proposed change to major transit services or fares would pose a potential disparate impact.  
  • If the effects of a major transit service change borne by people experiencing low incomes are not within 10% of the effects borne by the people not experiencing low incomes, then the proposed change would pose a potential disproportionate burden. 
  • If either a potential disparate impact or disproportionate burden is found, the FTA requires recipients to analyze alternatives. The transit agency may change the proposed work to avoid, minimize, or mitigate potential impacts or burdens. A transit agency may proceed with the proposed change only if there is proper justification, and no alternatives exist with less negative impact.

The Met Council’s disparate impact/disproportionate burden policy does not consider a beneficial effect beyond 10% difference to BIPOC and low-income populations as evidence. The intent of Title VI is to ensure non-discrimination against BIPOC and low-income communities. Therefore, analysis that finds a beneficial effect for BIPOC and/or low-income communities will not require the agency to analyze alternatives. 

What it means

Below are more tangible examples of how evaluations and the relevant standard work. The evaluations measure impact on areas with high BIPOC populations compared to areas with higher white populations. These examples are hypothetical and do not reflect any current or anticipated changes.

Example 1: Imagine we’re upgrading local bus service to bus rapid transit. That service change would result in increased transit trips in a corridor. For example, there would be 600 more weekly trips in BIPOC areas compared with 580 more weekly trips in white areas which results in a 3.5% relative benefit to BIPOC populations and would not require any adjustment.

Example 2: Imagine we’re proposing a region-wide service reduction. In this case, we’d measure per-capita access by group. For example, there are 7% fewer weekly trips per person in BIPOC areas, compared with 3% fewer weekly trips per person in white areas. That results in a 4% relative burden to BIPOC areas. This would still not constitute an adjustment but illustrates how the differences play out.

Example 3: Imagine we’re proposing a reallocation of service across the transit network from local to express service. We again measure the percent change in per-capita access per group and find 7% fewer weekly trips per person in BIPOC areas, and 5% more weekly trips per person in white areas. The calculation results in a 12% relative burden to BIPOC areas, which would require further investigation and potential mitigation into the disparate impact.

The third example illustrates the impact of the policy change. The 80%/20% standard would not trigger additional evaluation in that scenario, but the 90%/10% standard would trigger further analysis.

How to get involved

We need to hear from you! Provide feedback by Aug. 31:

More information about the Met Council’s Title VI program