CHICAGO (CN) - Transit officials in Chicago favor white passengers and short-change its minority riders, a federal class action claims.
Manuel Manguia and Dorothy Mc Ghee say that for the past 26 years, Illinois, its transportation department, the Regional Transportation Authority and Metra have "grossly and disparately favored white mass transit riders and disfavored minority mass transit riders within the (Regional Transportation Authority) region" by overfunding Metra, which has a ridership of about 70 percent whites, and underfunding the Chicago Transit Authority, whose riders are 60 percent Latino and black.
The lawsuit says that Chicago Transit Authority operating funds have decreased from 71 percent to 59 percent, even though the Chicago Transit Authority serves 82 percent of the Regional Transportation Authority's daily riders.
In contrast, Metra serves only 12 percent of the region's riders but gets 27 percent of the operating subsidies and far more than its share of capital funding.
"As a result of the funding scheme, (Chicago Transit Authority) has continually tottered on financial ruin - having to increase fares and having to cut back on services, both of which have had substantial impacts on African American and Hispanic residents in the (Chicago Transit Authority) service area," the lawsuit states.
"Meanwhile, Metra has thrived, and today provides its predominantly white riders mass transit luxury at a below market price."
The lawsuit also says minorities have less access to mass transit and are more likely to ride Chicago Transit Authority buses instead of trains because the alleged imbalanced funding has delayed plans to extend the Red Line to a minority neighborhood.
The alleged lopsided funding also reduces employment opportunities and lowers property values in black and Hispanic neighbors, according to the complaint.
The lawsuit was filed by Stewart Weltman.
Read the Top 8
Sign up for the Top 8, a roundup of the day's top stories delivered directly to your inbox Monday through Friday.