Public transportation: what does it mean for Preble County?


By Shelley Ratliff - For PCCOA



EATON — What does public transportation mean for Preble County? Are we talking about big buses running routes all over the county?

There will not be city buses like Dayton has, but there will be vehicles very similar to what the Preble County Council on Aging (PCCOA) uses now: minivans and small buses, all wheelchair capable.

Where we started

Several months ago, Mobility Manager Curt McNew expressed his concern for lack of public transportation in Preble County. Curt worked with the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) and Ohio Technical Assistance Program (OTAP) funds were approved for a public transit feasibility study that RLS & Associates completed a few weeks ago.

The study and various stakeholders recommended the creation of a public transportation system in Preble County. In order to apply for ODOT funds to create Public Transportation, an entity needed to step up and become somewhat of a “sponsor.”

The Preble County Commissioners voted unanimously on Monday, Feb 28, to name Preble County Council on Aging the “designated grantee” to receive federal and state grants through ODOT to operate rural public transit in Preble County. This is for three years and will be under regular review by the Preble County Commissioners.

The next step is to apply for grants from the Ohio Department of Transportation to begin public transit service in early 2023.

Common questions

•My mom uses PCCOA transportation to go to the doctor? Does this mean she won’t have a ride?

Nothing is expected to change with this process except more rides for seniors and the rest of the population while having more opportunities for ODOT funds to support our service.

•Why would PCCOA want to take on this venture?

Anyone who knows about our transportation service knows we operate at the highest level of customer service for our riders. We specialize in providing people over age 60 transportation, meals, activities, etc. We have a model transportation system that can be used to replicate efficient, on time, low-cost rides for an extended population. PCCOA will have more opportunities to receive ODOT funds for computer hardware/software, equipment including vehicles and more. This is a great opportunity for us.

•PCCOA just passed a levy. Are my taxes going to fund “public transportation”?

Levy funds will not be used for public transportation. State and federal grants are the primary funding source. There will be modest fares, not yet determined, but reasonable and affordable. Money saved from receiving grants will allow PCCOA levy dollars to be allocated to other areas to support seniors such as home delivered meals or homemaking. We see it as stretching our dollars.

Some important basic facts

PCCOA’s wonderful transportation for seniors will not change. The public transit service will hopefully begin in early 2023 offering on demand (call for a ride) service to anyone (all ages) wanting a ride originating or ending in Preble County.

Anyone interested can attend the quarterly Transportation Advisory Committee (TAC) meetings to stay informed on Preble County transportation options and/or give direct feedback to Preble County Mobility Manager Curt McNew about transportation in the county. The next TAC meeting will be Thursday, March 10, at 10 a.m., at the Grange. No Zoom option is available. Mobility Manager McNew will present the final transit feasibility study results and updates on the ODOT funding cycle. He will also lay out some of the timeline, goals, and challenges this year to begin public transit service in early 2023.

All questions and feedback are highly encouraged.

Feel free to reach out to Curt McNew with any questions, concerns or suggestions at [email protected] or 937-634-9060.

Make sure to read next week’s article, “Where are we now and what’s next?”

(Editor’s note: This is the first article in a series of updates from the Preble County Council on Aging regarding public transportation.)

By Shelley Ratliff

For PCCOA