Once again, federal authorities have admonished the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) for breaking the rules protecting the civil rights of minority passengers when it cut services.

Peter Rogoff, chief of the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), sent the MTA a letter saying he is especially concerned, since the agency “should be well familiar with the requirements” regarding civil rights because of years of litigation, including a previous consent decree. We all have the same concern, without knowing whether what happened was caused by incompetence, apathy or bad intentions.

What is certain is that the FTA found that the MTA did not analyze the impact of its bus route changes and cuts on minority passengers as Title VI requires. Rogoff also mentioned that only by conducting a review can the impact on minorities be determined. The MTA implemented changes and cut more than 650,000 hours of service without knowing the impact it would have on riders.

The content of the letter is a concrete example of MTA’s irresponsible attitude in making decisions about cuts based on route profitability and ignoring its mission as a public bus transportation agency in a city like Los Angeles.

We think MTA’s officials should pay more attention to complying with federal regulations that protect the majority of its riders in Los Angeles from discrimination, rather than disregarding this aspect and focusing solely on profitability.

Federal authorities are now demanding that the MTA review the changes implemented from December 2009 to June 2011 to determine whether they have had an unfair impact on riders. Will the MTA finally fulfill its duties?

Unfortunately, the MTA has zero credibility when it comes to serving its minority customers. The members of the MTA Board of Directors, which is made up of top local and county officials, have that same lack of credibility.

The FTA gave the MTA an opportunity to correct itself. We wouldn’t have done this until Rogoff’s question is answered. Why wasn’t the required impact analysis review done, if the MTA was aware it was necessary after several years of civil rights issues with its passengers?