For the many of us who reside in Erie County, the very public battle between the City of Erie and Erie County Council over who will be in charge of the EMTA is a little puzzling. News stories on local TV stations and in the local paper say absolutely nothing about why they’re fighting in the first place. The county says it pays more into the EMTA than the city so they want control, they want to appoint all of the board members and they’ve given the city an ultimatum, hand it over or we’ll stop contributing anything, but they haven’t said what the county would do if they got their hands on the wheel. The city says it works fine as is and, to an outside observer, they may have a point.
What exactly is the problem?
Has anyone on county council thought about explaining to residents of the county why they’ve decided to pick a fight with the city over this? If they have, the local media haven’t picked up on it. There must be some major outstanding issue, an enormous unmet need, a problem that must be fixed that requires this public spat and county control to set right, otherwise why would they do it? Has the county asked for a route somewhere the EMTA refused? Is there a complaint they haven’t addressed. Is there some spending issue that needs to be investigated? What does the county want?
If the county had control, right now, if the city turned everything over today, what exactly would council do? Sure, they might smile at one another over the battle won, they might high five when no one was looking, but really, what would their first order of business be? What pressing EMTA problem demands their full control to fix? Or is this just a purely political battle for power? It certainly seems that way and if that’s what it is, county residents might be better served if council members turned their attention back to the many other problems they should be dealing with because, to most of us, this is beginning to look silly.
Thank you, Paul, for asking this question. We have been wondering the same thing: How did this conflict begin? Maybe the County wants to expand bus service outside of the city limits? That would be great, and I would definitely use it to get to work every day in downtown Erie.
Whatever it is that the County wants to accomplish, they should do a little marketing campaign and inform the public.
Paul Crowe says
There are already routes outside city limits, but even if county council wants more, have they tried just asking for them?
The county could be considered a big customer of EMTA because of their contribution, but if the EMTA provides the service the county requires and is responsive to additional routes that make sense, why would the county want to take on the headache of running the buses, too? When someone hires a company to do work for them, they pay for the service without having to acquire and maintain the tools and equipment necessary. That’s the whole point of hiring them.
There may certainly be a reason for this battle, but it’s well hidden to most of us.