U.S. DOT Rules Ohio Burb Can’t Keep Out Transit, Local Officials Balk

It’s always sad when attacks on transit are poorly disguised attempts at keeping “those folks” out. Such is the case with this story of transit obstructionism in the suburbs of Dayton, Ohio.

A Dayton, Ohio, suburb is in hot water with U.S. DOT for refusing to allow three new bus stops in the city. Image: ##http://www.daytondailynews.com/news/news/rta-council-doesnt-buy-arguments-for-3-bus-stops-n/nMqNf/## Dayton Daily News##

Beavercreek, an affluent suburb by Dayton standards, set out to establish special rules for the local transit authority, otherwise it wouldn’t allow three new bus stops near a major employment center in the city. The town wanted to mandate a laundry list of special provisions, including heating and air conditioning in the bus stops and surveillance cameras. When the transit authority didn’t comply, the City Council denied an application to install the stops.

Media Matters points out that transit riders in greater Dayton happen to look a little different than the folks who live in Beavercreek:

According to the 2010 census, 9 in 10 Beavercreek residents are white, but 73 percent of those who ride the Dayton RTA buses are minorities. “I can’t see anything else but it being a racial thing,” Sam Gresham, state chair of Common Cause Ohio, a public interest advocacy group, told ThinkProgress. “They don’t want African Americans going on a consistent basis to Beavercreek.”

Well, they didn’t get away with it. A civil rights group called LEAD — Leaders for Equality and Action in Dayton — slapped Beavercreek with a civil rights complaint through the U.S. DOT. The group argued that the decision would have a disproportionate impact on African Americans.

U.S. DOT returned last month with a decision in LEAD’s favor. Now the Federal Highway Administration is withholding all transportation funding from the suburb until it complies with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, which states that federally funded agencies can’t discriminate against minority groups.

You’d think that would be the end of it. But Media Matters reports that Beavercreek is balking and has yet to comply with U.S. DOT’s orders:

The city council voted most recently on Friday to put off consideration of the matter until later this month. They are weighing whether to appeal the federal ruling, or perhaps whether to just defy it altogether. Appealing the ruling could cost the city hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees, according to a Washington D.C. lawyer the council hired.

  • Anonymous

    I don’t know if it can be pinned down entirely to race … air-conditioned transit stops in the summer could mean less smelly bus riders 🙂

  • John Dough

    If it was me, I’d end the bus service for everybody…a color blind decision that benefits all taxpayers.

  • Dave D

    LEAD is a small obscure publicity seeking group using race as a stepping stone to further their political stature. What’s not stated is two facts. Beavercreek is a racially diverse area led by a racially and sexually diverse city council who listens to their constituency. Secondly, the area claimed as not being served by mass transit is indeed served by the Greene County transit system. The majority of any petitions to the Feds were obtained by canvassers at UD, a predominately white campus. Lead and RTA are not even from Greene County but from an adjacent county obtaining petitions from college students from other states. There is NO discrimination in Beavercreek, Ohio

  • Kevin Crawford

    Except the taxpayers that use the bus system. I guess those people don’t matter.

  • John Dough

    Of course they matter. Don’t you see? If the taxpayers that use the bus system value it in proportion to the cost of providing it, they will be willing to pay for it in proportion to their use of it. Those who don’t use it, won’t pay for it. Everybody wins!

  • safecrossings

    Excellent! Please make sure to mail me back the check for all the roadway funds I pay in taxes that I don’t use.

  • John Dough

    Wow. What a pathetic, feeble attempt at sarcasm.

    Here’s how it’s done: Send an invoice to your state’s road dept. and ask for a refund of the gas tax and auto reg fees you paid for that car you don’t use.

    🙂

  • Highlight

    User fees pay for less than half of road construction and maintenance.

  • Kevin Crawford

    Don’t bother wasting your time. This fellow obviously still thinks it’s 1950. The hypocrisy of the anti-transit/bike/ped/anything-other-than-car crowd is so transparent that the only logical conclusion is that their position stems from pure selfishness. Don’t fret too much: the younger, less self-absorbed leaders are well on their way of pushing this obsolete line of thinking down the gutter of history where it belongs. The backlash is merely dying throes.

  • John Dough

    Right. Put it in your refund request.

  • John Dough

    We all look forward to fewer roads and more levitating buses, fewer roads and more flying bikes, fewer roads and more bushwhacking peds, fewer roads and more of anything but those nasty cars.

    Good luck finding those less self-absorbed young leaders.

  • John Dough

    Hey, maybe you are one of those less self-absorbed leaders. Why don’t you run for something under the promise of banning those obsolete automobiles and giving everybody the buses they all want? Let us know how that works out.

  • Ian Turner

    This is a straw man.

  • Kevin Crawford

    Maybe you can tell me where anyone suggested banning cars, straw man.

    I’m quite certain most advocates would be quite satisfied to merely see non-auto transportation given anything approaching half the level of support.

    But since you mentioned it, we’re actually doing quite well, thank you very much. The rise of complete streets policies, bike infrastructure, and bike sharing programs, and bike commuting across the US has been meteoric.

  • Kevin Crawford

    I look forward to the magical endless resources that are going to allow us all to drive everywhere, forever.

    Wait about 60 years for about 2010 and you’ll see those less self-absorbed young leaders.

  • yodasws

    I don’t understand why they’re pushing so hard against RTA… are the homeowners paying for the transit? Is the city collecting taxes from the successful business full of employees?

  • John Dough

    Maybe you can tell me where anyone suggested they were “anti-transit/bike/ped/anything-other-than-car”.

  • John Dough

    45 years ago, smart people like you, Kevin, were publishing articles in scholarly pubs, predicting how the earth was going to run out of resources and we were all going to be riding in buses by 30 years ago.

    Your generation has no appreciation for the endless ingenuity of your parents’ generation.

    You know what happens to the resources you don’t use, Kevin? They’re used by Chinamen. While you’re sharing a bike in the rain, some peasant in China is riding in an air conditioned BMW, burning the gas you turn your Ivy League nose up at.

  • Kevin Crawford

    That “ingenuity” was based on the exploitation of fossil fuels. The resulting landscape is now one that was designed entirely around cars that is now dependent on desperate operations like tar sands mining.

    30 YEARS AGO!! OMFG, those people who suggested conservation were SO wrong!

    That you would even fathom 30 years as being a long time only demonstrates the propensity of extremely shortsighted thinking that has pervaded the US. 30 years is less than half a typical lifetime. It’s a blip on the time scale of history – even human history.

  • John Dough

    Proving once again that every generation has its share of doomsayers. How depressing it must be to live in a world where the sky is always falling.

    Read it again, Kev. The doomsayers of 1968 predicted the planet was going to run out of oil by 1983, 15 years hence. Yet we haven’t. Others predicted we would be choking on air pollution. But we’re not.

  • Kevin Crawford

    I think you just don’t understand the larger issue at hand. Oil is still a finite resource whether or not previous “doomsayers” were accurate in dating. More oil has been found, but it’s generally more difficult to extract and refine. That means it’s going to get more expensive – it’s basic economics. And that’s why it is and was stupid to continue designing the US around driving – the previous generation’s legacy. US production – which should be important to us – did peak not long after 1968.

    And Chinamen driving cars makes an argument *for* alternatives here if anything, not against.

  • John Dough

    Yes, through your retrospective lens, the sky is surely falling. The day will come when the last drop of oil has been sucked out of the ground, somebody will pay a gazillion dollars for it, and there will be nothing to replace it. We will be living a Mad Max existence.

    Tell me. Are you surprised or disappointed that the sky hasn’t fallen already…validating your hypothesis that “it…was stupid to continue designing the US around driving”?

    If only there had been somebody as smart and clairvoyant as you at the beginning of the highway age, shouting, “Stop! Fools! Don’t be stupid. Don’t use that oil. It’s a finite resource. Some day it’s going to be more difficult to extract and refine. Some day it’s going to get more expensive. It’s basic economics. Don’t do it. Stick with the horses. It’s stupid to design the US around driving!”

    If you knew anything about basic economics, Kevin, you would realize that individual personal mobility, brought to us by automobiles, highways and gasoline, was almost singlehandedly responsible for the greatest economic expansion in history and the highest middle class quality of life ever known.

    And to think…you could have stopped it.

  • Kevin Crawford

    Just what is your position, exactly? Mine remains that it is stupid to design landscapes entirely around driving because of the impeding vulnerabilities. Have a good review of Tar Sands operations, and tell me we’re not in trouble. So what if the sky hasn’t fallen? Do you plan for the possibility of problems, or is it better to do nothing? Do you realize that the “sky hasn’t fallen” at least partially because the armature of highway building, car building, and car fueling is heavily subsidized?

    Just because something provides benefits, that doesn’t mean it will always provide benefits. As for quality of life, that’s debateable – you’re welcome to show me studies that show a direct link between car usage and quality of life, if you have them. I can show you statistics that show cars are the #1 life ender of children through young adults, and that car dependency has a detrimental affect on health. Surely that does not increase quality of life.

  • Kevin Crawford

    And by the way, we don’t need to run out of oil to have problems. We need merely to run out of cheap oil, because that’s precisely what’s required to build, fuel, and maintain the individual personal mobility (as if such a thing is only possible with cars) you’re so fond of at anything like the scale it is now.

    In case you haven’t noticed, we are absolutely running out of cheap oil. There is no magic wand, spell, incantation, or conjuring that will fix that, no matter how much bitching drivers want to do.

  • Joe R.

    That’s *exactly* the key point here. Once the cheap oil runs out, it needs to be replaced with another form of cheap energy to continue to “individual personal mobility” John Dough raves about. And that’s just for starters. You still need money to support the vast infrastructure motor vehicles require. We were running out of that money long before oil prices started getting expensive. That’s part of the reason for the housing bubble. The infrastructure required to enable the suburbs and exurbs just isn’t sustainable economically in the long run, regardless of energy prices. That being the case, there’s a lot less justification to spend vast resources continuing to build our world around automobiles. We’re going to denser living arrangements by necessity. In these denser arrangements autos don’t really work at all.

    The sky isn’t falling, but the era of free highways everyone, McMansions on 1/4 acre lots, and near universal auto ownership is drawing to a close. There is no white knight on the horizon which can potentially fix this. We may find lots of new oil, but it’s so hard to get to it won’t be economically worth mining until gas prices get well past $5 per gallon. And it’s pretty obvious with $5 to $10 per gallon gas suddenly alternatives to the auto and denser living arrangements look a whole lot more attractive.

    There’s also the infrastructure problem. That’s why electric cars won’t save the day either despite the hopes of motorists that they’ll come to the rescue once gas gets too expensive. We can no longer afford to build infrastructure which serves 4 houses per block without significant subsidies from denser areas. There’s little justification for urban residents to subsidize suburban residents in any way, shape or form. Besides that, suburbs are highly overrated. Most are sterile hellholes which are about as far removed from the way people are designed to live as they can be. People need regular human contact and regular exercise. You get neither in a place where you have to drive literally everywhere.

    As for personal mobility, a bicycle affords that to most people. If we built denser so people don’t regularly need to travel insane distances a bicycle is all the personal mobility most people need. Mass transit (perhaps with biking on both ends of the trip) can cover the relatively few longer distance trips.

  • Kevin Crawford

    Thanks Joe., your thinking is right in line with mine. I’m still not exactly certain what Mr. Dough’s point is, other than he thinks that cars are awesome and that suggesting our extreme car dependency might or has caused a problem automatically means you’re a doomsayer who certainly must be wrong because the predictions of some previous “doomsayers” haven’t come true yet. Not quite certain how that argument works – I should have followed my own advice and not wasted my time with this. Some people get it, and some people don’t want to get it.

  • OneSF

    So 88.5% of the population being white equals diverse?I’d like to see what you would classify a place where there are barely any White people and then everybody else who isn’t White is the majority. Is that a lack of diversity then?

  • Joe R.

    Yes, that seems to be the way people like Mr. Dough think-just because something didn’t turn out as bad as predicted means everything is hunky dory. Of course, we’ll never know what the results could have been had we continued steadily on the conservation/alternative energy/mass transit path instead of abandoning it when Reagan was elected. If people were spending much less of their income on energy and transportation, the economy might now be in much better shape, living standards would be higher, people would be healthier, and so forth. Unfortunately, we’ll never have insight into the results of alternative futures. All I know is the path we’re on has felt “wrong” for a long time. I feel society at all levels would have been in much better shape had we not strayed from the path we were on after the first oil crisis in the 1970s. There’s also a lesson here-namely never underestimate the power of those who profit from the status quo to stop change, even if that change is largely beneficial to the general public. Nothing good is ever going to come from continued fossil fuel or auto dependency. Unfortunately, a minority makes a lot of money off these things, so that minority will continue to spread disinformation. Not helping matters either is that most people are not very imaginative. They can’t see any type of lifestyle other than what they already have. Any change makes them nervous. Thankfully there is some momentum shift now that the masses are starting to see that they’re just being suckers for big oil and big auto. I think it’ll take a generation to fully take hold as the millenials eventually come into power, but massive change is on the horizon.

  • John Dough

    WTF are you guys smoking!?

  • John Dough

    I guess my position is that altruism is trumped by self interest. It’s a fool’s game. Guys like you sacrifice on principle while others (by the millions) take advantage. You ride a bike for the greater good of mankind, or something, and millions of people continue to do what is in their best self interest, negating your sacrifice.

    I’m not an expert on human behavior but I’m a long time observer of it. When the price of an in elastic commodity like gasoline goes up, I see more people responding by using it at a faster rate in anticipation of it going up even higher than people tightening their belts.

    My position is that people live too far from where they work. As anyone can see by observing traffic patterns, it’s the repeat (daily) trips that are killing us. Those trips to work over great distances are what cause congestion and waste of resources.

    When government subsidizes those trips, government tips the playing field in favor of long commutes. My position is that government shouldn’t tip the playing field.

    My position is that government shouldn’t compete with itself by subsidizing competing modes of transportation. My position is that it would be better for government to subsidize neither highways nor transit than to subsidize both. Which is what government does. And that sets up ugly (endless) debates like this one over who gets a fair share and who doesn’t.

  • Kevin Crawford

    Well, reading that was a lot more pleasant than our little bicker fest here. Some comments on that:

    1. Some people, like myself, don’t view cycling as a sacrifice. It’s truly our preferred mode of transportation.

    2. You are dead on about daily commutes being too long. I respect your position that neither transit nor highways should be subsidized. In fact, I think walkable, mixed-use communities should be top priority, and if anything should receive the most subsidy. What irks a lot of alternate transportation advocates are attacks on such without acknowledging the also-subsized nature of roads. That comes off as hypocritical and selfish.

  • Kevin Crawford

    And, finally:

    3. If you look at overall vehicle miles traveled in the US, we actually are driving less, and this is especially true for youth.

    4. Even if cycling, or whatever else, is done in altruistic fashion, and you believe the actions of others negate that, the altruistic choice still has merit, and in fact the opposite can also be true: more people might take up cycling to replace some or all of their driving, and that is what I believe is happening more than the opposite. I just don’t believe Americans can afford to drive more

  • Joe R.

    I should point out that one reason many people give for not cycling is they feel the roads are too dangerous. Every person that cycles instead of drives makes the roads that much safer. That results in more people cycling. Eventually you reach a critical mass of cyclists on the roads, and they end up dictating road design instead of motorists. That in turn gets the final bunch of people too timid to cycle in the saddle.

    Although this article is about mass transit, for a bunch of reasons I feel human-powered transport is going to play a much larger role in our future. A bike offers nearly all the conveniences of a car, but without the associated headaches or costs. It just needs the right infrastructure (i.e. bike highways without stop signs or traffic lights) to make it useful in more transportation scenarios. Even the one ostensible drawback of bikes-namely their lack of speed, can be largely fixed if we adopted velomobiles en masse. A good velomobile can enable a strong rider to cruise at 40 to 50 mph, an average rider at 25 to 35 mph. Those speeds would undoubtedly improve further if we devoted some R&D time to the problem.

  • John Dough

    Joe says: “…for a bunch of reasons I feel human-powered transport is going to play a much larger role in our future. A bike offers nearly all the conveniences of a car, but without the associated headaches or costs.”

    I agree that human powered transport will play a larger role, Joe. And I also agree that bikes offer many advantages over cars. But, cars also offer many conveniences over bikes that you didn’t mention.

    When it’s 20 below zero, when it’s raining, when you have to haul a dozen 12-foot long 4x4s, when your spouse and two kids are going with you, when your trip is 50 miles long, when you have to arrive in a suit to represent a client in front of a judge…in all those circumstances, I submit a car is more convenient than a bike.

    And here’s the thing many tend to overlook: That convenience is worth paying a premium price for. If you don’t believe it, just take a look at the number/percentage of people who DO pay a premium price to drive.

  • Ohsass

    Beavercreek currently has three bus lines
    that connect to the RTA buses via easy typical bus stop transfer. The
    buses are called Greene CATS and they serve the whole county of Greene
    which Beavercreek is part of. Anyone can travel to and from Montgomery
    and Greene County regardless of their race, income, nationality or
    physical handicap and even by special request. The bigger picture here
    is actually what the long range plan is for the region. The plan is to
    connect the whole I-75 corridor down to Cincinnati, almost morph Dayton
    into a Cincinnati suburb. If you’ve been following this sort of thing
    around the country, you will understand why throwing Beavercreek under
    the proverbial bus is of little consequence to the regional planners..

  • Ohsass

    OneSF – Take a look at the population stats for the whole state of Ohio. Indiana? Washington State? Michigan? Will the Feds go after every other town with our racial make-up? Every other state? Are we suppose to go recruit the correct amount of minorities to move here now in order to avoid future lawsuits? Was this a sudden revelation by the Feds which somehow played no part in previous federal hwy funding we received or the current $10 million in question that already went through the approval process?

  • Ohsass

    The city council did NOT in fact request air conditioned bus stops. That was incorrectly reported and little to nothing was done to correct that. It hit the internet and became fact. Simply not true.

  • Joe R.

    Velomobiles cover the raining or 20 below zero part. In case you’re not familiar, velomobiles are recumbent human-powered vehicles with an aerodynamic shell. Some have an open cockpit, others have a fully enclosed cockpit. Put a small battery and motor in a velomobile, and you have an economical way to do 50 mile trips without working up a sweat.

    As far as hauling large loads, you do know Home Depot and most other stores that sell bulky items deliver? Unless you’re a contractor and buy these types of items a lot, it’s more cost effective to have them delivered instead of owning a vehicle for the rare times you buy such items.

    I think there are velomobiles for two people. Certainly we could make ones to seat a family if we wanted to.

    Yes, there are times when you need some form of motorized transport (not necessarily a car), but those times are a lot less often than most people are conditioned to thinking.

    One reason I feel human-powered transport will play a much larger role is precisely because fewer people will be willing or even able to pay extra for any convenience a car might offer. In cases where it’s just too far to pedal, you may well see motorized velomobiles becoming the vehicle of choice. In essence, a motorized velomobile is just a very small, very light car.

  • John Dough

    Of course. “Velomobiles”! I forgot all about those. How silly of me.

    You said, “…fewer people will be willing or even able to pay extra for any convenience a car might offer.”

    Yeah, I overlooked that to. For the first time in human history, people are going to become unwilling to pay for convenience. Airlines will not be able to sell first class seats. FedEx will go out of business because they’ll settle for first class mail. Why, even convenience stores will go out of business.

    Tell me Joe. Do you ever look back of the crap you write and say to yourself, “Geez, that sure was dumb. I wish I had thought about that a little before I hit the send button.”

  • Joe R.

    I’ll spell it out for you since you can’t seem to figure it out on your own. Real wages are down. Unemployment is up. More and more jobs will be lost to automation and outsourcing in the future. Part time work is becoming the new normal. On top of all this, the costs of basic necessities like food and housing are up. Fewer people will therefore have less money to pay extra for conveniences like auto travel. Even businesses are cutting down on the frills by often not paying for first class for business travelers. Fewer doesn’t imply none. There are always going to be people wealthy enough to pay for conveniences, but they’re going to comprise less and less of the population. It’s not hard to figure out that car use and ownership will decrease in that climate. If suitable public transit doesn’t exist, then people will resort to cheaper means of personal transport, like bicycles. It’s not a difficult concept to grasp. Less money earned equals less money spent on conveniences.

  • Anonymous

    “And here’s the thing many tend to overlook: That convenience is worth paying a premium price for. If you don’t believe it, just take a look at the number/percentage of people who DO pay a premium price to drive.”

    And here in a nutshell is one of the things that you continue to overlook; that is that most people have no clue that they are paying a premium price to drive.

    While you and I rarely agree on anything, I will grant that you are one of the few who do at least acknowledge that roads & highways are subsidized. But many people are blissfully unaware of that fact.

    Many more also foolishly believe that the only cost of driving is the price of the gas in their tank. They don’t account for the other costs of car ownership when the price shop for the best choice, be it bus, train, plane, or car.

    Because of that the number of people driving is greatly distorted because they don’t have a clue just how big a premium they actually are paying.

  • NewHampshire

    HUD/EPA/DOT have no business forcing transit lines on places that do not want them. The racial issue is coincidental and has nothing to do with why they don’t want it. This is Agenda 21 and HUD enforcement of it. Black people are welcome to come and shop, live and work anyplace they wish.. HUD has no right to impose laws based on race.

  • d

    Lol like it really has anything to do with how they look… be honest and say it is because of how they act.can’t be a hoodrat and then be surprised when you get banned from somewhere or thing

  • d

    You want to change things?? How about putting transit cops on the busses?

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

How 3 Communities Fought Discriminatory Transportation Policies

|
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act, which outlawed discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. To celebrate the occasion, PolicyLink and the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights held a discussion this week about how that legislation has affected transportation policy. Three local community leaders […]

Ohio DOT Hosts Transit Meeting That No One Can Reach Via Transit

|
Ohio DOT is one of those old-school transportation agencies that’s still just a highway department. The director is a former asphalt industry lobbyist. The state — despite being fairly densely populated and urban (about 1 million people don’t have cars) — spent only $7.3 million supporting transit in 2013, far less than it devotes to mowing […]

If You Want to Fix Sorry Bus Stops, Don’t Forget to Tell the DOT

|
Streetsblog just wrapped up our 2016 Sorriest Bus Stop in America competition, with a waiting area on a state highway in Silver Spring, Maryland, beating out 15 other terrible bus stops for the crown of shame. For our voters, asking people to cross a six-lane divided road with no signal was unforgivable. To make the pedestrian environment around bus stops better, state […]

Today’s Headlines

|
Virginia Beach City Council Votes in Favor of Light Rail Expansion (WAVY) Arlington’s New Bus-Only Lanes Open Soon (WaPo) Cleveland Withholding Funding from Opportunity Corridor in Dispute With State (Cleveland.com) Local Official: Ohio DOT Prefers to Hire Republicans (Dayton Daily News) Albuquerque Getting a Green Bike Lane (City of Albuquerque) Honolulu to Get Federal Assistance […]

Can the Feds Fix Detroit’s Uniquely Terrible Transit System?

|
There is no better evidence of the sharp social divisions that continue to haunt metro Detroit than the appalling state of its transit system. When it comes to public transportation, residents of the city of Detroit and suburbanites live in a state of government sanctioned apartheid. They ride fully separate systems, with fully separate sets […]