LOS ANGELES, April 24 (Xinhua) -- Bus riders on Tuesday protested against the federal government's failure to block the elimination of bus service by a Los Angeles transit agency.
Protesters gathered outside of the LA Metro building to denounce the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) for failing to find LA County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LA Metro) violating federal civil rights laws by cutting bus service in 2007.
Supported by civil rights groups, protesters claimed that LA Metro knowingly discriminated against bus riders of color when approving the elimination of nearly 1 million hours of bus service five years ago.
They called on U.S. President Barack Obama to intervene in the matter, saying it is a test of his administration's commitment to civil rights.
In response to a civil rights investigation by FTA, LA Metro, the second largest transit agency in the United States, acknowledged that its own studies showed that cuts of successive rounds of bus service disproportionately harmed Black, Latino and Asian Pacific islander riders.
Protesters also claimed the discriminatory cuts took place at a time when the transportation agency boasted of a 52 percent increase in additional revenue.
The FTA on Tuesday ordered LA Metro to review changes and cutbacks it has made since December 2009, saying the transit agency failed to evaluate the impact of major transit service changes to determine if they were "discriminatory."
LA Metro also ignored its own definition of a "major service change" when identifying cuts that were subject to the civil rights review, the FTA said.
According to the LA Bus Riders Union, LA Metro's history of civil rights abuses has been well documented.
In a landmark lawsuit filed in 1994, the Bus Riders Union sued LA Metro for racial discrimination, resulting in 10 years of court oversight and close to 3 billion U.S. dollars in improvements to the bus system.
FTA's investigation showed that LA Metro officials returned to their previous practices almost immediately after the court supervision expired.