A fine line exists between government helping coordinate private-sector services and dictating how they will be provided. Jefferson County commissioners are right to be leery of stepping over it.
It has been eight years since the comprehensive public transportation plan for East Ohio has been reviewed. It is time for it to be updated, according to Ohio Department of Transportation officials.
Commissioners have been discussing a proposed new plan with officials of the Ohio Mid-Eastern Governments Association, the Brooke-Hancock-Jefferson Metropolitan Planning Commission and ODOT.
One priority for a new plan is ensuring low-income and older people have access to transportation for health care and other necessary trips. Adoption of an updated plan would allow local entities with vans used for that purpose to obtain state funding to replace vehicles nearing the end of their useful lives.
But commissioners were concerned about a proposal to name a “mobility manager” for the region. Commissioner Tom Gentile said he worried that official would have the power to dictate which transportation services could be utilized to aid the elderly and the needy.
It is a valid concern. Government at all levels already dictates to the private sector in many ways, ranging from whether smoking can be permitted in restaurants to whether certain products are safe enough to sell to consumers.
It was agreed the mobility manager provision will be removed from the new plan.
Good. Nevertheless, some way of coordinating public transportation — strictly on a voluntary basis — may be helpful. All involved should consider whether that should be included in the plan.