Officially Texoma Area Paratransit System, the organization is better known as TAPS Public Transit. TAPS is a private, non-profit corporation and a political subdivision of the State of Texas. In its decades of operation, TAPS has grown into a system of more than 180 buses and vans providing in excess of 300,000 trips this year in a seven county service area.
Serving Clay, Collin, Cooke, Fannin, Grayson, Montague and Wise counties, TAPS was created to provide safe, dependable and affordable transportation for persons who depend on public transportation, or who desire to avoid the ever rising cost of fuel and the increasing stress of driving in extreme traffic conditions.
TAPS originated as a van and a station wagon ride service in 1986, offered to clients of thirteen separate senior centers and communities in Fannin, Grayson, and Cooke counties.
An effort led by the Area Agency on Aging helped consolidate funds and other resources to upgrade services and become more efficient as an organization.
Although TAPS is primarily funded for general public transportation, a major concern is meeting the individual needs of each area resident. The vast majority of trips provided are on-demand, curb-to-curb, transport booked by riders in advance using TAPS’s modern call center.
The most common trips are those related to employment, education and medical appointments. Whether helping people keep their independence or providing safe, affordable commuter transportation, TAPS stands ready to serve all individuals’ transportation needs.
Since July 1, as TAPS entered the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex with its Collin County service, there has been an new emphasis on increasing capacity and becoming more efficient.
In 2014, TAPS operating as TAPS Access was awarded a contract to provide non-emergency medical transportation to Medicaid members in 16 North Texas counties.
Brad Underwood, TAPS CEO and Executive Director, said the agency’s mission has not changed much over the past three decades. “It’s still about getting people where they need to go, at an affordable price.”
“Over the years, TAPS as an organization has grown significantly. The number of people behind the scenes and the people on the front lines —drivers and call center agents— has increased as our service area has expanded,” said Underwood. “Keeping up this pace of growth and improvement has led our agency to get very creative when it comes to funding,” said Underwood.
Within the nation’s transportation industry TAPS Public Transit is considered a model of how a small agency can reach more people with a greater range of services by bringing both public and private groups together.
“We have been very successful in working with major employers to build into our existing system, special routes and shuttles that allow workers to get to the workplace using affordable, dependable transportation that is supported both by tax dollars and private business,” said Underwood.
What does the future hold for TAPS Public Transit? Certainly, more growth and expansion into more Texas communities that need well-managed public transportation and continuing development of current routes and schedules to provide even more access for citizens.