Gaps in planning practice: privately owned White's Ferry on the Potomac River and county transportation planning
Master plans frequently don't include privately owned services. I've written a bunch about how "master plans" should truly be master plans, and cover a community's complete range of assets and programs within functional planning elements such as parks (so include privately run gyms, etc. as well as county, state, federal and other assets), culture (include public and private assets, media and communication, higher education, etc.) and transportation, such as taxis or privately owned parking ("Another example of the need to reconfigure transpo planning and operations at the metropolitan scale: Boston is seizing dockless bike share bikes, which compete with their dock-based system," 2018).
Relevant to this question are private "public places" where the private owners ought to manage their properties as if they were public, and therefore do some public planning and engagement to build consensus on operational decisions. Mostly they don't do this, or don't do it very well. A good example is parking planning at Reston Town Center ("Boston Properties backs down in Reston," 2017).
German transport associations as a model for integrated planning and transit services. WRT transportation I argue that US metropolitan regions should create German style "transport associations" ("The answer is: Create a single multi-state/regional multi-modal transit planning, management, and operations authority association," 2017; "Verkehrsverbund: The evolution and spread of fully integrated regional public transport in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland," International Journal of Sustainable Transportation, 2018) to integrate planning and operations across large areas.
And that as part of this, planning for network breadth, depth and integration should be a separate function from operating and funding the services.
While there are a variety of operators, for profit and government, the city-state of Hamburg ends up being a key player in ownership in many of the entities, and the planning function of the transport association extends into neighboring states.
The DC area doesn't have such a system. Mostly the jurisdictions do planning separately, although by default, the Metrorail system ends up being the primary planner.
A privately owned ferry continues to operate in the DC area (well it did)
White's Ferry is a remnant service from the time when most transit services were privately operated.
It's an old fashioned ferry that crosses the Potomac River between Montgomery County Maryland and Loudoun County Virginia. It's privately owned, and when operating serves more than 600 people per day.
The service ceased operations in December because of a dispute between the owner of the service, based in Maryland, and the owner of property on the Virginia side of the river, where the ferry lands ("After Decade-Long Legal Battle, White’s Ferry Closes," Loudon Now).
I would argue that the transportation agencies in Montgomery and Loudoun Counties should have been more actively engaged in working to maintain the service.
The ferry business was just purchased by a firm with significant financial resources, and presumably the new owners will come to terms with the Virginia landowner and reopen the service ("With new owner, beloved White’s Ferry has a chance of reopening," Washington Post).transportation plan difficult to use via the web. It's on the web, but broken up into a bunch of pieces.
The Ferry is mentioned in the Rustic Roads plan, but not as a functional service. Loudoun County's Transportation Plan doesn't mention White's Ferry as a functional service either, and they spell it differently (White's) from MoCo (Whites).
A mobility service relied upon by hundreds of people, and providing unique river-based access between two counties otherwise not very well connected ought to be acknowledged, planned, and if useful, marketed as an element of the transportation system more generally.
But because it's not a publicly owned service it falls through the cracks.
2. Transport associations and the inclusion of privately owned services. To be fair, I think even German transport associations have a difficult time with privately owned services like taxis and car sharing. But there needs to be a way to bring them to the same table.
Maybe it's a bit better in London, Montreal, and San Francisco, where the local transportation authority has planning responsibilities for taxis, sometimes roads, and other services, not just transit.
But were a transport association structure in place, for profit mobility services like car share, ferry services, and toll roads and bridges should be at the table.
Although, like with the privately owned Ambassador Bridge connecting Detroit and Windsor a difficult owner can lead the government sector to create their own separate services ("Manuel ‘Matty’ Moroun, Owner of Ambassador Bridge, Dies at 93," Detroit News).