Foursquare ITP developed the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s (WMATA) Public Participation Plan (PPP) to determine and formalize proactive strategies, procedures, and desired outcomes that will result in the meaningful participation of Title VI protected populations, including minority and limited English proficient population groups, as well as low-income populations. WMATA’s Public Participation Plan meets and exceeds these requirements and was developed through a multi-faceted outreach and engagement process that captured both innovative and effective methods for reaching Title VI protected populations as well as creating a project planning process and organizational change recommendation to standardize the process of public participation throughout the agency. WMATA has since implemented the changes and has, based on the plan, further developed and implemented an extremely robust public engagement process. The PPP was awarded the Merit Award for Community Outreach and Engagement by the American Planning Association’s National Capital Chapter.
In order to gain insights on the most effective method for reaching various populations—low-income, various minority groups, and those with limited English proficiency—Foursquare ITP conducted an overview of the federal requirements and a detailed peer analysis of the public participation practices at peer transit agencies. We also led outreach to community-based organizations (CBOs), through telephone interviews and focus groups, to gain insights on the most effective method for reaching the diverse populations that they serve (different ethnic groups, disability services organizations, and immigrant services groups) and to understand how WMATA could improve working relationships with these organizations going forward.
Foursquare ITP developed and implemented the public outreach program for the PPP, branded as “Speak Up! It’s Your Ride.” Speak Up! It’s Your Ride included a series of events ranging from pop-ups at Metrorail Stations, festivals, shopping centers, and multi-family residential buildings, as well as community meetings with students and immigrants. A public survey on public participation and communications preferences was administered on tablets at the pop-up events and available online in six languages. Over 3,500 individuals completed the public survey; 69 percent were minorities, 28 percent were low-income, and 10 percent had limited English proficiency.