Transportation privatized at Jeffco Services

STEUBENVILLE — Transportation for special needs adults now is privatized, and Jeffco Services is offering it to those in need.

Since Aug. 27, the service transitioned from under the umbrella of the Jefferson County Board of Developmental Disabilities to Jeffco as part of the ongoing plan to meet federal mandates for privatization, according to officials.

Five passenger vans are utilized and carry 63 individuals from throughout the county to the Jeffco Training Center, to work or to other agency providers. Jeffco Services Chief Executive Officer Tracey Thomas said the change has gone smoothly, due in large part to the staff’s efforts.

“We cover a large area of Jefferson County from Adena to Bergholz and the larger towns,” she said. “We have excellent van drivers and an excellent transportation coordinator.”

Jeffco initially had four solid routes but added a fifth through JCBDD during the privatization process, which also led to the addition of an extra vehicle in the last year. The passenger vans travel 550 miles per weekday and Jeffco is among several providers available.

“It is free and (potential passengers) need to be determined eligible as an individual with developmental disabilities, plus he or she must be 21 years old and live in Jefferson County,” Thomas continued, adding that morning and afternoon transports are available from as early as 6 a.m. to roughly 6 p.m.

JCBDD Superintendent Michael Zinno said the transition was a long time coming and efforts have gone smoothly.

“Transport to and from day services are no longer provided by the county board as of Aug. 27. It is 100 percent privatized to providers,” he said. “There are others and there always have been others, but now with Jeffco, the county board is no longer involved. For years we’ve been working on normalizing transportation and they no longer ride with children on the yellow buses. We’re quite proud of that, and it’s been a long process.”

Zinno thanked the drivers in the employees union for collaborating on the change, which also allows the county board to maintain transport of about 50 children.

“At one time, we had 10 drivers and 10 routes, but we’ve been able to do this through attrition so it did not affect employees. We made plans many years ago to do this responsibly, and now we have five routes with five drivers and the county board transports all children and kids who attend the School of Bright Promise.”

For information, contact Jeffco Services at (740) 266-6167 and ask for transportation.