IBTTA puts ‘words to action’ on diversity

Racial and social injustice firmly on tolling organisation’s agenda
Charging, Tolling & Road Pricing / October 13, 2020
By Adam Hill
189035631 © Dmitri Maruta | Dreamstime.com
IBTTA: lives have been lost to 'beliefs, behaviours and practices founded in ignorance and rooted in systemic racism throughout the US' (© Dmitri Maruta | Dreamstime.com)

The IBTTA’s nascent diversity taskforce is looking to conclude a partnership agreement with the Conference of Minority Transportation Officials (COMTO).

The tolling organisation’s Task Force on Diversity, Social and Racial Inclusion was created earlier this year “to listen to the voices of those in our association and society who truly understand and recognise the depth of the inequity caused by racial and social injustice”.

IBTTA president Samuel Johnson, CEO of Transportation Corridor Agencies in Orange County, California, told the IBTTA’s virtual 88th Annual Meeting: “We took words to action.”

The 30-member task force is led by Joi Dean, CEO of the Richmond Metropolitan Transportation Authority, and Ferzan Ahmed, executive director of the Ohio Turnpike and Infrastructure Commission.

Its stated aim is to “implement practices and programmes that contribute to racial and social justice in our IBTTA family and society”.

One immediate response from IBTTA Foundation Board member Rosa Rountree, CEO of Egis Projects, raised $10,000 “in just a few weeks”.

The money will support two new scholarships for students who attend the more than 100 historically Black colleges and universities across the US.

“Rosa Rountree has long been a strong contributor to our industry and her efforts to support the association and foundation are exemplary,” said Johnson.

“As a woman of colour and CEO of Egis Projects, Rosa recognises the challenges that exist and is making opportunities for everyone to achieve success.”

IBTTA says its own statement on racial justice “aligns with” COMTO’s mission and purpose: “IBTTA stands to denounce systemic practices that exclude basic human dignity and equitable treatment for all.”

The organisation adds “that Black lives matter, and that those lives were lost to beliefs, behaviours and practices founded in ignorance and rooted in systemic racism throughout the US”.

IBTTA is not the only US transport organisation to speak out: the US Governors Highway Safety Association recently warned that the deaths of Black drivers after they have been stopped by police are at risk of undermining more general road safety messages.

In a statement abhorring racism, it said that public trust in safety campaigns could be undermined if drivers think that racism is a factor in traffic enforcement.