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FHWA/FTA Questions and Answers on Public Involvement in Transportation Decisionmaking

[8] How should an agency identify and address the transportation needs of persons and groups who have been traditionally underserved by existing transportation systems?

This presents a formidable challenge to transportation agencies because these individuals and groups often do not have the resources to travel to meetings, an ability to participate in meetings scheduled during their work hours, or an understanding of how or why to get involved in the transportation decisionmaking process.

The identification of these groups and individuals also presents a challenge. Transportation agencies should begin by identifying organized groups including persons with disabilities, minority community groups, ethnic groups and organizations, and Native Americans. Executive Order 12898, "Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Populations" directs Federal agencies to conduct existing programs so as to identify and address disproportionately high and adverse environmental effects on minority, low income, and Native American communities. Techniques and strategies to identify the transportation underserved include: notices in non-English language newspapers; public service announcements on radio stations which tailor their programming to non-English speaking Americans; and fliers and notices on public involvement opportunities distributed to senior citizens' centers, minority neighborhoods, urban housing projects.

Addressing the needs of these groups will require gaining a thorough understanding both of why they have been traditionally underserved and of what their current and future transportation needs are. Continuous interaction between these groups and transportation professionals will be critical to better serving their needs in the future.

Updated: 5/16/2013
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