Endless Mountains Transportation Authority/ BeST Transit

TITLE VI   POLICY AND COMPLAINT PROCESS

 

The Endless Mountains Transportation Authority/BeST Transit (BeST) grants equal access to its programs and services to all citizens. This document serves to make citizens aware of their rights to such access, and serves to educate citizens so that they may understand the civil rights laws that protect their receipt and benefit of such services as defined by Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

WHAT IS TITLE VI?

Title VI is a section of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 requiring that " No person in the United States 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 any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance" Note that Title VI does not address gender discrimination. It only covers race, color and national origin. Other Civil Rights laws prohibit gender discrimination.

BeST’s TITLE VI COMPLAINT AND INVESTIGATION PROCEDURES

These procedures cover all complaints filed under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 for alleged discrimination in any program or activity administered by BeST Transit.

These procedures do not deny the right of the complainant to file formal complaints with other State or Federal agencies or to seek private counsel for complaints alleging discrimination. Every effort will be made to obtain early resolution of complaints at the lowest level possible. The option of informal mediation meeting(s) between the affected parties and BeST may be utilized for resolution. Any individual, group of individuals or entity that believes they have been subjected to discrimination prohibited under Title VI and related statutes may file separate complaints.

1.) A formal complaint must be filed within 180 days of the alleged occurrence. Complaints shall be in writing and signed by the individual or his/her representative, and will include the complainant's name, address and telephone number; name of alleged discriminating official, basis of complaint (race, color, national origin), and the date of alleged act(s). A statement detailing the facts and circumstances of the alleged discrimination must accompany all complaints. A BeST Title VI complaint form can be found at the end of this document. BeST encourages individuals to submit Title VI complaints in writing using this form and mailing it to:

 

Title VI Coordinator

Endless Mountains Transportation Authority

27824 Route 220

Athens, PA 18810

 

2.) In the case where a complainant is unable or incapable of providing a written statement, a verbal complaint of discrimination may be made to the BeST Title VI Coordinator. Under these circumstances, the complainant will be interviewed, and the BeST Title VI Coordinator will assist the complainant in completing a written statement.

3.) When a complaint is received, the Title VI Coordinator will provide written acknowledgment to the Complainant, within ten (10) business days by registered mail or hand delivery.

4.) If a complaint is deemed incomplete, additional information will be requested, and the Complainant will be provided 60 business days to submit the required information. Failure to do so may be considered good cause for a determination of no investigative merit.

5.) Within 15 business days from receipt of a complete complaint, BeST will determine its jurisdiction in pursuing the matter and whether the complaint has sufficient merit to warrant investigation. Within five (5) days of this decision, the Executive Director or his/her authorized designee will notify the Complainant and Respondent, by registered mail or hand delivery informing them of the disposition.

a. If the decision is not to investigate the complaint, the notification shall specifically state the reason for the decision.

b. If the complaint is to be investigated, the notification shall state the grounds of BeST's jurisdiction, while informing the parties that their full cooperation will be required in gathering additional information and assisting the investigator.

6.) When BeST does not have sufficient jurisdiction, the Executive Director or his/her authorized designee will refer the complaint to the appropriate State or Federal agency holding such jurisdiction.

7.) Complete investigation will be conducted, and an investigative report will be submitted to the Executive Director within 60 days from receipt of the complaint. The report will include a description of the incident, summaries of all persons interviewed, and a finding with recommendations and proposed resolution where appropriate. If the investigation is delayed for any reason, the Title VI Coordinator will notify the appropriate authorities, and an extension will be requested

8.) The Executive Director or his/her authorized designee will issue letters of finding to the complainant and Respondent within 90 days from receipt of the complaint.

9.) If the Complainant is dissatisfied with BeST's resolution of the complaint, he/she has the right to file a complaint in the time allotted by law with:

 

Federal Transit Administration Region 3

1760 Market Street Suite 500

Philadelphia, PA 19103-4124

(215) 656-7100 (telephone)

(215) 656-7260 (fax)

 

 

Public Participation Plan

 

BEST TRANSIT strives to sustain the delivery of quality transportation service to the residents of Bradford, Sullivan and Tioga counties.

 The committee routinely reviews all transportation programs, including fixed route, shared ride, and exclusive services to determine that each program area is meeting acceptable service standards and make recommendations for improvements.

 

In addition, when route changes and/or fares are proposed, BEST TRANSIT creates, collects, and evaluates input from these documents to aid in the decision making process.

 

Any Bradford, Sullivan or Tioga county residents may serve on the advisory committee.  BEST TRANSIT does not appoint its board members nor any other committee members.  Participation is on a volunteer basis.  The committee strives to maintain a broad-based mix of members from the public and private sectors.  Membership is encouraged from consumers as well as agencies and organizations serving the elderly, disabled, and indigent. 

 

Limited English Proficiency Policy Plan

 

The purpose of this limited English proficiency policy guidance is to clarify the responsibilities of recipients of federal financial assistance from the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and assist them in fulfilling their responsibilities to limited English proficient (LEP) persons, pursuant to Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and implementing regulations. It was prepared in accordance with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. 2000d, et seq., and its implementing regulations provide that no person shall be subjected to discrimination on the basis of race, color, or national origin under any program or activity that receives federal financial assistance, and;

Executive Order 13166

Executive Order 13166 "Improving Access to Services for Persons with Limited English Proficiency," reprinted at 65 FR 50121 (August 16, 2000), directs each Federal agency that is subject to the requirements of Title VI to publish guidance for its respective recipients clarifying that obligation. Executive Order 13166 further directs that all such guidance documents be consistent with the compliance standards and framework detailed in the Department of Justice's (DOJ's) Policy Guidance entitled “Enforcement of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of l964-National Origin Discrimination against Persons with Limited English Proficiency." (See 65 FR 50123, August 16, 2000 DOJ's General LEP Guidance). Different treatment based upon a person's inability to speak, read, write, or understand English may be a type of national origin discrimination. Executive Order 13166 applies to all federal agencies and all programs and operations of entities that receive funding from the federal government, including state agencies, local agencies such as the Crawford Area Transportation Authority (BEST TRANSIT) and governments, private and non-profit entities, and sub recipients.

Plan Summary

BEST TRANSIT has developed this Limited English Proficiency Plan (LEP) to help identify reasonable steps to provide language assistance for LEP persons seeking meaningful access to BEST TRANSIT services as required by Executive Order 13166. A Limited English Proficiency person is one who does not speak English as their primary language and who has a limited ability to read, speak, write, or understand English. This plan details procedures on how to identify a person who may need language assistance, the ways in which assistance may be provided, training staff, how to notify LEP persons that assistance is available, and information for future plan updates. In developing the plan while determining BEST TRANSIT's extent of obligation to provide LEP services,  BEST TRANSIT conducted a U.S. Department of Transportation four factor LEP analysis which considers the following:

1) The number or proportion of LEP persons eligible in the BEST TRANSIT service area who may be served or likely to encounter an BEST TRANSIT program, activity, or service; 2) the frequency with which LEP individuals come in contact with BEST TRANSIT services; 3) the nature and importance of the program, activity or service provided by the BEST TRANSIT to the LEP population; and 4) the resources available to the BEST TRANSIT and overall costs to provide LEP assistance. A brief description of these considerations is provided in the following section.

Four Factor Analyses

 

1.            The number or proportion of LEP persons eligible in the BEST TRANSIT service area who may be served or likely to encounter a BEST TRANSIT program, activity, or service.

 

The BEST TRANSIT examined the US Census report from 2010, and, using data from Census tracts in the BEST TRANSIT service area was able to determine that approximately 96.4% of people within BEST TRANSIT's service area age 5 and older spoke English as the primary or only language. Approximately 3.6% speak a language other than English.

 

2.              The frequency with which LEP individuals come in contact with a BEST TRANSIT program, activity, or service.

 

BEST TRANSIT assesses the frequency at which staff and drivers have or could possibly have contact with LEP persons. This includes documenting phone inquiries and surveying drivers and customer service personnel. BEST TRANSIT has had no requests for interpreters and zero requests for translated BEST TRANSIT documents. BEST TRANSIT staff and drivers have had very little to no contact with LEP individuals.

 

3.              The nature and importance of the program, activity, or service provided by the BEST TRANSIT to LEP community.

 

There is no large geographic concentration of any one type of LEP individuals in the BEST TRANSIT service area. The overwhelming majority of the population, 96.1% of residents speaks English as their primary language. Therefore, for the most part, LEP individuals do not use BEST TRANSIT's services.  

 

4.            The resources available to BEST TRANSIT and overall costs

 

BEST TRANSIT assessed its available resources that could be used for providing LEP assistance. This included identifying costs associated with subscription to the Language Line service, the costs of additional translation services such as a professional interpreter on an as needed basis, which documents would be the most valuable to be translated if and when the populations supports, taking an inventory of available organizations that BEST TRANSIT could partner with for outreach and translation efforts, and what level of staff training is needed. After analyzing the four factors, the BEST TRANSIT developed the plan outlined in the following section for assisting persons of limited English proficiency at a low cost.                                   

 

Limited English Proficiency Plan Outline

How to Identify a LEP Person Who Needs Language Assistance-

Below are tools to help identify persons who may need language assistance:

  • Examine records requests for language assistance from past meetings and events to anticipate the possible need for assistance at upcoming meetings;
  • When BEST TRANSIT sponsored meetings are held, set up a sign-in sheet table, have a staff member greet and briefly speak to each attendee. To informally gauge the attendee's ability to speak and understand English, ask a question that requires a full sentence reply;
  • Survey drivers and other first line staff on an annual basis at the beginning of each fiscal year regarding their experience on having any direct or indirect contact with LEP individuals.

 

Language Assistance Measures

 

BEST TRANSIT has or will implement the following LEP procedures. The creation of these steps are based on the very low percentage of persons speaking other languages or not speaking English at least "well," and the lack of resources available in the BEST TRANSIT service area:

  • BEST TRANSIT’s Website has been redesigned to include a translator software program which is able to be used at the bottom of the webpage.
  • When an interpreter is needed, in person or on the telephone, staff will utilize the Language Line Service.

 

BEST TRANSIT Staff Training

 

All BEST TRANSIT staff will be made available a copy of the LEP Plan and will be educated on procedures to follow. This information will also be part of the BEST TRANSIT staff orientation process for new hires. Training topics are listed below:

  • Understanding the Title VI policy and LEP responsibilities;
  • Documentation of language assistance requests;
  • How to handle a Title VI and/or LEP complaint

 

Outreach Techniques

 

BEST TRANSIT does not have a formal practice of outreach techniques due to the lack of LEP population and resources available in the service area. However, the following are a few options that BEST TRANSIT will incorporate when and/or if the need arises for LEP outreach:

 

  • If staff knows that they will be presenting a topic that could be of potential importance to an LEP person or if staff will be hosting a meeting or a workshop in a geographic location with a known concentration of LEP persons, meeting notices, fliers, advertisements, and agendas will be printed in an alternative language, based on known LEP population in the area.
    • Key print materials will be translated and made available at the BEST TRANSIT Administration facility and in communities when a specific and concentrated LEP population is identified

 

Monitoring and Updating the LEP Plan

 

This plan is designed to be flexible and is one that can be easily updated. At a minimum, BEST TRANSIT will follow the Title VI Program update schedule for the LEP Plan.

Each update should examine all plan components such as:

  • How many LEP persons were encountered?
  • Were their needs met?
  • What is the current LEP population in BEST TRANSIT service area?
  • Has there been a change in the types of languages where translation services

are needed?

  • Is there still a need for continued language assistance for previously identified BEST TRANSIT programs? Are there other programs that should be included?
  • Have BEST TRANSIT's available resources, such as technology, staff, and financial

costs changed?

  • Has BEST TRANSIT fulfilled the goals of the LEP Plan?
  • Were any complaints received?

 

As part of the monitoring and update plan, BEST TRANSIT will track the activity of usage of its services by LEP persons and requests for assistance from Customer Service and Operator staff, and record information from passenger surveys which will identify the language spoken by passengers and their need for assistance. BEST TRANSIT will also maintain communication with municipalities in its service area to identify LEP individuals who may have moved into a part of BEST TRANSIT's service area and may require assistance. These municipalities will also be instructed to contact BEST TRANSIT with any requests that they may receive for language assistance.

 

Dissemination of the BEST TRANSIT Limited English Proficiency Plan

 

BEST TRANSIT includes the LEP plan on the BEST TRANSIT website (www.goBeSTTransit.com) together with its Title VI Policy and Complaint Procedures. BEST TRANSIT's Notice of Rights under Title VI to the public is available in the BEST TRANSIT Administration facility lobby area.

 

Any person, including social service, non-profit, and law enforcement agencies, along with other community partners with Internet access will be able to access the plan.

 

Copies of the LEP Plan will be provided upon request. LEP persons may obtain copies/translations of the plan upon request.

 

Any questions or comments regarding this plan should be directed to the BEST TRANSIT Title VI Coordinator.

 

BEST TRANSIT Human Resources, Title VI Coordinator

27824 Route 220

Athens, Pa.  18810

 

Phone: (570) 888.7330

Fax:  (570) 888.8713

 

 

Non-elected committees and councils

 

BEST TRANSIT does not appoint Board of Director Members nor any other committee or subcommittee structure.

 

Equity Analysis Statement:

 

BEST TRANSIT has not performed a major construction project since the last Title VI update so no equity analysis has been performed.  BEST TRANSIT will perform an equity analysis for all future qualifying construction projects.

 

List of Title VI Investigations/Complaints/Lawsuits

 

FY10/11 -       None

FY11/12 -       None

FY12-13 -      None

FY13-14-       None

FY14-15 -      None

FY15-16-       None

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aug. 2016