The word “regional” is being applied to so many things county government talks about now that it’s worth asking exactly what they mean when they say it. The highly touted Emerge 2040 plan, which labels itself “A Regional Vision,” has this statement in the introductory pages:
The plan emphasizes Erie County and its 38 municipalities, while the economic growth component is broader in scope, encompassing Erie County as well as the four adjacent counties of Warren and Crawford Counties (PA), Chautauqua (NY) and Ashtabula (OH).
When county council recently established a regional transit authority, the discussion focused on extending service to outlying areas as well as discussions of internal management, but they could have done this with an Erie County Transit Authority, too. Words in government documents have specific meanings, legal disagreements often hinge on exactly what a particular word means in an ordinance or resolution, and with the statement above from Emerge 2040 showing their “vision” of the region extends into other counties and states, county council would be well advised to explicitly define what they mean.
The resolution references the Municipal Authorities Act, which seems more directed at their authority to create the ERTA in the first place, but how far will its operations extend? Perhaps the referenced Municipal Authorities Act has a limitation within it, but digging through that is a task for another day.
Erie County Council may have no intent to send buses beyond the county line, perhaps they never thought of it or even imagined there could be any confusion, but with all of this “regional” exuberance in press releases and discussions of major plans, it makes sense to be sure everyone knows exactly what they mean, especially when it may be far different than you assume.
Peter Dietz says
One use of regional that is least controversial in a transit sense, would be if there are two neighboring transit systems that each stopped within their county line, anyone wishing to transfer across the county line has to walk the gap. If both regional transit agencies worked together, then each could serve a common shared stop (in one county or the other), allowing passengers to have an easy transfer at a minimal extra route length.