City officials will meet Friday with Greater Dayton Regional Transit Authority and Ohio Department of Transportation officials to begin negotiations on a bus stop application process and the rehearing of a RTA proposal for three bus stops in the Mall of Fairfield Commons area.
The city faces the loss of millions of dollars of federal highway funding after the Federal Highway Administration determined it violated the Civil Rights Act of 1964 when it denied in 2011 an RTA proposal for three bus stops in the Mall of Fairfield Commons area. Rehearing the RTA proposal and crafting a new application process with ODOT and federal oversight were required for the city’s compliance with the Civil Rights Act.
City Attorney Stephen McHugh released Monday a draft of timelines for both the rehearing and the new application process. The proposed rehearing timeline has the application to the city’s consultant for review by Aug. 30; that review to the city Sept. 15; any issues resolved by Sept. 30; and presented to the City Council before Oct. 14. The proposed new application process timeline stretches into February 2014.
“There is not a higher priority item before the council and staff,” City Manager Mike Cornell has said of the compliance process.
The city initially rejected the RTA proposal in 2011. An advocacy group, Leaders for Equality and Action in Dayton, filed a complaint alleging the city was violating the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by denying public transportation to bus riders — the majority of whom are minorities — to the mall area.
The RTA has a route on Colonel Glenn Highway through a section of Beavercreek to Wright State University. It desired to extend the route an additional mile-an-a-half, crossing Interstate 675 to the mall area so riders would have access to jobs, medical care, education and shopping along Pentagon Boulevard adjacent to the mall.
In 2010, city staff determined the RTA proposal conformed to the city’s 2000 bus stop ordinance. The council, however, added more criteria — including video surveillance cameras and police call boxes at all stops, billing RTA for police services, and requiring a $150,000 deposit from RTA in case new traffic signals were needed because of the stops — to gain approval.
The council said the criteria were to ensure both safety and that the city would not incur additional costs.
RTA would not meet some of the criteria, and on March 26, 2011, the council voted 6-0 to deny the application.
In every instance, the federal investigators found the city presented no evidence that the added criteria “were necessary to meeting a legitimate, important goal integral to the city’s mission.” Federal investigators said the city offered no reasonable evidence the criteria were needed.
DDN reporters have covered the issue of public transit to the Mall at Fairfield Commons since the Beavercreek City Council passed a resolution in 1995 that city neither wanted nor needed fixed-route bus service. Count on us to continue our in-depth coverage of the issue.