EATON — Shelley Ratliff and Tim Miller from Preble County Council on Aging met with the Preble County Board of Commissioners on Monday, Feb. 26 ,to review the county’s Coordinated Plan for Transportation.
According to Miller, who is the Mobility Manager, there has not been a huge change in the coordinated plan as Preble County’s transportation needs are mostly met.
“[The plan] was approved by the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT). Each year, in the fall, we will go through and look at it to see if there are any changes or updates needed. They want us to look at the plan every year. I appreciate all three of you coming to all the meetings and helping out. We had a lot of good input from people throughout the county — it made my job a lot easier,” Miller said.
Commission President Chris Day asked, “Was there anything of major significance that changed within the plan?”
Miller responded there was not, as Preble County is a rural county and needs mostly stay the same.
“I think the people are being served. Occassionally, I get a call from somebody who is not low income or a senior, but they need transportation. I do what I can to try and help them out. Job and Family Services has some money now available to help people with transportation. I know she had $1,000 with taking people to work. That seemed to be a hot button at first, but the surveys did not come out showing that transportation to work was a big need,” he said.
“It is one of the things that I’ve noticed, I always asked what the demand was and I never saw any data to suggest that [transportation to work] was needed,” Day commented.
Miller said, “I didn’t see that on any of the surveys or anything. Montgomery County has hired a Mobility Manager. They first let us know that they are trying to get one person to coordinate a nine county region, including Preble County. The State is wanting to put together a regional mobility. The person from Montgomery County is coming over in a week or so.
“My first fear was that Montgomery County was going to take over. They told us that they only wanted to assist us, not take over.”
Commissioner Rodney Creech asked if there would be a need for a type of Uber service in Preble County.
“I don’t see Uber taking off, because they usually get paid from the pickup point to drop off. If you have to drive 15 miles to New Paris and then take them to Richmond, I just don’t see that working,” Miller said. “There was a company out of Nebraska and they were in Mercer County and they financially folded. They had a great idea. They got volunteers to drive their own vehicles, like Uber. It was working, but the drivers were not getting paid.”
Executive Director Ratliff added, “It is going to take something like that — volunteers, churches, and small groups to take care of us. The cost would be astronomical.”
Day added, he has heard of employees helping organize car-pooling systems throughout companies. He suggested something like that might work in the county. He said, “That seems to be the only thing working in the rural counties.”
Commissioner Denise Robertson countered that many employees organize car-pooling systems organically once they get a job and into the company culture.
“We’re pretty much the only county that does everything for free,” Miller said, adding, many counties that have public transportation charge for that service. “That would be the biggest thing if we ever go for public transportation, but I think the county is pretty well served. I don’t see a need for any kind of Uber. If it shows up, it shows up, but I think we are pretty well serviced transportation wise.”
Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH