Inaccuracies in proposal raise doubts

We are dismayed at the misleading information provided to the Ohio Department of Transportation by the private company that operates Trumbull County’s transportation service.

The information was part of an outline to combine public transit programs in six counties, including Trumbull. Terry Thomas, president and CEO of Community Bus Services of Warren, last month sent a document pitching the pilot program to ODOT’s Chuck Dyer. The document contained inaccuracies and what can be viewed largely as misrepresentation.

For instance, the document included a quote attributed to state Rep. Michael O’Brien, D-Warren. However, O’Brien said the quote was taken out of context because it was made 20 years ago when he was a Trumbull County commissioner in reference to the county’s previous and now-defunct transportation system, TACT.

The document also proclaimed that Eastgate Regional Council of Governments would be the lead agency on the project. However, Eastgate’s executive director tells the Tribune Chronicle his agency has nothing to do with it.

When the Tribune Chronicle sought answers from Thomas, he said Eastgate had given him the go-ahead by committing to doing a study on the topic. Still, the document makes no mention of a study. Thomas also called the inclusion of O’Brien’s 20-year-old comment a “mistake.”

We call it misrepresentation.

We applaud Dyer for doing his due diligence in verifying the information that was submitted to him rather than accepting it at face value.

We understand that Thomas’ company is facing revenue decline after commissioners agreed to allow thousands of dollars in senior levy transportation funds to be redirected to other providers. And we understand his company’s future work for the county may appear unclear as he faces a possible 61 percent reduction in trip hours offered per week, as well as the rebidding of his already-expired long-term contract in coming months.

Based on that, one could assume that he logically is attempting to generate new business.

Still, these concerns should not excuse any company from making inaccurate representations to anyone — public or private — seeking to maintain or expand a business plan.

Before Thomas tries to expand, we believe it’s more important to existing Trumbull County riders that he work to rectify scheduling challenges that frustrated users face, including requirements that they must plan and call for their rides a week in advance.

If Thomas hopes to be successful, particularly in a business that relies so heavily on public funding and complete transparency, he must become more committed to ensuring that everything he does is accurate and above board with no appearance of impropriety.