Kennedy Plaza bus plan spurs discrimination complaint

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Opponents of a proposal to break up the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority's bus hub in Kennedy Plaza in Providence have filed a federal civil rights complaint against the state over the project, alleging it is discriminatory.

Grow Smart RI and the South Providence Neighborhood Association lodged complaints with RIPTA and the state Department of Transportation under the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits exclusion or racial discrimination in federally assisted programs, The Providence Journal reported Tuesday.

They say dispersing Kennedy Plaza bus stops to two new hubs will harm riders who are disproportionately “people of color and low income."

The complaint cites RIPTA statistics that 53% of the system’s bus riders “identify as Black, Indigenous and people of color” and that 80% of riders have a household income of less than $35,000 a year.

The complaint also says the move will result in riders having to make more transfers and increase their commute times.

A spokesman for the Transportation Department in an email called the complaint premature. “A consultant is in the process of preparing an analysis of the proposed plan to ensure that it follows" federal civil rights laws, he said.

Public comment is part of that process, the statement said.