Development of the Boston Region MPO’s Disparate Impact and Disproportionate Burden Policy

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The Boston Region MPO has established a policy to safeguard against unintentional discrimination when making decisions regarding investments in the transportation system. MPO staff will use the new draft Disparate Impact and Disproportionate Burden (DI/DB) Policy to evaluate whether implementation of the investments programmed in the Long-Range Transportation Plan (LRTP) would likely disproportionately affect minority populations or low-income populations.

Current Updates

After assessing public input and feedback from the MPO board, MPO staff has developed a draft DI/DB Policy that will be used for the first time to evaluate the collection of projects programmed in the next LRTP, Destination 2040. The document is expected to be released for public review in June 2019. MPO staff expects to continue to refine the draft policy in federal fiscal year 2020, and subsequently will seek MPO endorsement of a final policy. Click here to read the MPO’s draft DI/DB Policy.

What is a DI/DB Policy?

As a recipient of federal funding, the MPO must identify and address, as appropriate, potential disproportionately high and adverse effects of its transportation investments on minority populations and low-income populations compared to nonminority populations and non-low-income populations, respectively. (Adverse effects can be either a denial or a delay of benefits, or the imposition of excessive burdens.) These effects are called disparate impacts (DI) when they affect minority populations and disproportionate burdens (DB) when they affect low-income populations. The MPO has developed a draft DI/DB Policy to identify when transportation investments programmed in the MPO’s LRTP would likely produce disparate impacts or disproportionate burdens. The DI/DB analysis is conducted on the forecasts of these impacts 20 years into the future, when the full program of projects programmed in the LRTP has been implemented.

How Did MPO Staff Incorporate Public Input into the Draft DI/DB Policy?

Through a public process the MPO

  • Collaborated with stakeholders who work with and represent the interests of minority or low-income populations to develop a DI/DB Policy that reflects the transportation concerns of minority and low-income residents; and
  • Identified, through dialogue with minority and low-income residents, which transportation impacts are most important to address—whether through the DI/DB Policy or through other MPO activities.

To reach these two goals, MPO staff hosted several events that were open to the public (see sidebar). The feedback received at these events was used to develop the draft DI/DB Policy. The draft policy reflects this input in several ways:

  • The working group’s recommendation is reflected in the draft policy’s determination of potential future disparate impacts and disproportionate burdens. The draft policy states the following two conditions for determining a potential future disparate impact or disproportionate burden:
    • The minority population or low-income population will likely be more adversely affected than the nonminority or non-low-income population, respectively, and
    • MPO staff are confident this result is not due to forecasting error in the MPO’s regional travel demand model (which is characteristic of this type of model)
  • The metrics that the MPO analyzes for disparate impacts and disproportionate burdens have been updated based on input received from the working group and the public workshop

To read the feedback that staff gathered, see the meeting summaries provided in the sidebar.

For more information about the draft DI/DB Policy, please contact Betsy Harvey, MPO Staff, at 857.702.3701 or