XII. Title VI &

     Environmental Justice


The State and the MPO shall annually certify to the FHWA and the FTA that the planning process is addressing the major issues facing the area and is being conducted in accordance with all applicable requirements of  ... Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.     23 CFR '450.334(a)(3)




The Civil Rights Act of 1964 guarantees equal protection under law and prohibits intentional discrimination based on race, color, or national origin.  In 1984, Federal regulations implementing Title VI were amended to prohibit recipients of Federal aid from carrying out any policy or program that has the effect of discriminating against individuals covered under the 1964 Civil Rights Act.  FHWA and the FTA issued a memorandum Implementing Title VI Requirements in Metropolitan and Statewide Planning that gave a clear message that Title VI and Environmental Justice are integral throughout the transportation planning process.[i] As part of the annual self-certification and in its adoption of the TIP, CDTC is required to certify its planning process adheres to Title VI.     


Environmental Justice (EJ) is a relatively new term to transportation, specific Federal guidance on EJ has been slow in coming, and the State and MPOs have therefore proceeded tentatively.  In 1994, President Clinton issued the Executive Order on Environmental Justice, citing the 1964 Civil Rights Act and Title VI as foundational pillars.@[ii] The Executive Order directs all Federal agencies to incorporate, as part of their mission, the goal of achieving environmental justice by ensuring that federally funded policies and programs do not subject minority and low-income communities to Adisproportionately high and adverse human health or environmental effects”. [iii]


CDTC's public involvement process, especially as conducted in the development of New Visions series of plans, is exemplary.  CDTC routinely includes an effort to perform a review of EJ issues, as well as to implement a standard procedure for including EJ considerations in the planning process.



Environmental Justice Analysis

The goal of EJ is to ensure that services and benefits are fairly distributed to all people, regardless of race, national origin, or income, and that they have access to meaningful participation.  In transportation programs, this includes: 

q      Avoiding, minimizing, or mitigating disproportionately high and adverse human health and environmental effects (social and economic) on minority and low-income populations.


q      Ensuring the full and fair participation in the transportation decision-making process by all potentially affected communities.

q      Preventing the denial of, reduction in, or a significant delay in the receipt of benefits by minority and low-income populations.


We note that the Title VI and the Executive Order do not prescribe the specific methods and processes for ensuring environmental justice in transportation planning.  State and local transportation agencies are free to explore and devise their analytical techniques and public involvement approaches to integrate EJ considerations in transportation decision-making.


EJ assessments were included in CDTC’s TIP evaluations for the first time in the 2003-2008 TIP.  CDTC’s approach to the analysis of EJ is well documented in its Environmental Justice Analysis draft report.[iv]  The MPO’s initial emphasis has been to complete a system-level evaluation of the planning program, adopted plans and programs. 


CDTC’s EJ program sets forth three basic questions:

1)     Is there adequate access to the process?

2)     Is the outcome equitable?

3)     Are the impacts fairly distributed?


CDTC identifies the location of EJ communities based on attribute data that primarily comes from the U.S. Census Bureau, as well as any other data available locally that would help identify EJ populations.  CDTC uses its GIS[v] to visually display the data, which helps in the identification of geographic areas of “special concern”(e.g., low income and minority geographic areas).


CDTC defines “special concern areas” as areas that have the populations exceeding the regional mean in certain categories – the regional mean becomes the threshold for identification:



Data Set


Total for CDTC area

Regional Percentage


Minority Population



Hispanic Population



Low Income Population



Zero Car Households







CDTC aggregates the Census data into Transportation Analysis Zones (TAZ), which are the geographic units used in CDTC’s travel-demand forecasting model.  In the present model, there are 924 TAZ in the Capital Region.  CDTC identifies any TAZ with a minority population greater than 11.2% or a low income population greater than 8.9% as an area of special concern.   Out of a total of 924 TAZs in the region, 425 meet one or more of the threshold levels for special concern.  Therefore, 46% of the region’s TAZs are Environmental Justice target population areas.


Seeking Out the EJ Community’s Input

CDTC uses both traditional and nontraditional methods of soliciting input into its plans and programs.  The traditional methods involve the web site, mailing list announcements, availability for public comments are CDTC meetings, and so on.  CDTC has also employed some nontraditional approaches.   It first used its Urban Issues Task Force to identify and elevate the importance of problems of older cities with pressing social demands.  It adopted a budgetary plan that establishes a policy to create budgetary space in TIPs and UPWPs for initiatives targeted at EJ community concerns; these include (1) community compatibility and economic development projects; and (2) increased land use economic development assistance to municipal and other local planning through the Linkage program (see page 29).  Since a foundational principle of CDTC project selection is to maintain a funding balance across all categories in the Plan, under-represented project categories are given special consideration during the first round of TIP project programming.

Figure 25: Percent of TAZs in the four Counties that are EJ target population areas


In the development of 2030 New Visions plan, the MPO is exploring questions of regional form, social equity and policy regarding highway expansion to address growing suburban congestion.  These questions impact the EJ communities and CDTC has proactively sought out their valued input.  A significant relationship has developed with ARISE (A Regional Initiative Supporting Empowerment), which is a faith-based community organizing project covering the four counties.  ARISE is a broad alliance of different interest groups-environmentalists, inner city residents and leaders, business, government, farmers, labor, suburbanites, and faith communities working together across regional, racial, and economic boundaries.  Its purpose is to bring together congregations and other membership organizations in the Capital Region as a strong coalition in order to locate areas of shared community concern, define solutions and develop a voice for positive change, especially in distressed neighborhoods.  ARISE currently has over 40 member organizations.[vi]


CDTC has assisted ARISE in several ways over the past several years[vii], recognizing the group’s potential to bring minority and other EJ populations’ needs to the regional table.  In fact, CDTC Staff Director John Poorman was honored as ARISE’s “Ally of the Year” in 2003.



Linkage Studies

The Linkage program (see Section IV: Land Use and Transportation Planning) is a CDTC funding program that provides financial and technical assistance to local communities and not-for-profit agencies for local transportation studies.  Regarding the program’s relationship to EJ, we note that the solicitation of candidate projects is sent to every municipality and every entity of the Enhancement list.  CDTC has advanced studies proposed by the Albany Housing Authority and the W. Haywood Burns Environmental Center in Albany to address EJ concerns to communities.  The majority of Linkage studies are in the region’s cities and 82% of all Linkage studies address EJ target areas.[viii]



Access to Jobs

The Capital Region Access to Jobs Committee was convened in 1998 as part of an effort to develop short and long-term employment and transportation needs for low-income population and public assistance program participants.  The Committee is comprised of CDTC, Social Services Department of Albany, Rensselaer, Schenectady, and Saratoga counties, public and private sector employers, CDTA, county job training agencies, and others.  The Committee works collaboratively to identify goals and objectives and to implement the Job Access Program, which is funded through the NYS Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) grants, Community Solutions for Transportation funds, and FTA Job Access Reverse Commute (JARC).  The program takes a regional approach towards providing access to jobs for low-income people and builds upon an existing public transportation system.  It provides innovative service options, such as community trip planners, in an effort to provide access to transportation services to as many low-income people as possible.  The community trip planners program places people at specific stops to assist customers with job placement.  In 2002, the CDTA received the Association for Public Transportation Agencies (APTA) "Welfare to Work" Award for this program.  An example of a specific project is the extension of existing CDTA fixed route service in areas of high TANF concentrations.  This included extensions of service hours on Route #6 - Second Avenue, Route #8 - Arbor Hill, Route #80 - Fifth Avenue in Troy, Route #82 - Troy -Cohoes, and Schenectady Night Service (Routes #66 & 77).

[i]   October 7, 1999.


[ii] Executive Order 12898: Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low Income Populations, signed by President Clinton on February 1, 1994.

[iii] EJ is concerned with issues as they impact both the individuals in the Title VI identified categories, plus the low-income sector, which was not covered by Title VI.

[iv]  Capital District Transportation Committee - Environmental Justice Analysis, CDTC, March 2004


[v]  Geographic Information System


[vii]  CDTC sponsored ARISE’s March 13, 2003 Regional Forum


[viii]  Capital District Transportation Committee - Environmental Justice Analysis, page 17, CDTC, March 2004