On December 7 during a special meeting, the TAPS board of directors voted to take the agency back to its roots of 30 years ago, by giving special consideration to seniors (60+) and individuals with disabilities.
Since summer, TAPS has been reducing service dramatically to cut costs. One of the changes included limiting rides to non-emergency medical-related trips through its on-demand, curb-to-curb, Get-a-Ride service. By unanimous decision this week, the TAPS board agreed to loosen the rules for seniors and individuals with disabilities. The change allows these two groups to schedule trips including to shop, keep appointments, visit a community center or any other reason.
TAPS Public Transit Director of Operations, Josh Walker, said the change is critical to providing mobility that meets the goal of the public transit agency: Connecting People to Life.
Walker said that recognizing what is important to vulnerable populations is in TAPS’s DNA. “From the very beginning, TAPS has been there for older adults and individuals with disabilities, we are committed to getting back to basics by increasing access to the world outside of their homes,” said Walker.
TAPS continues to operate far below its previous capacity, but with the recent cancellation of service to Collin County, more resources are available to the remaining six counties in its service area.
TAPS call center supervisor, Vicky Ellis, said her staff is anxious to get their customers back on the road with the rule change. “We know our customers very well, especially the seniors and those with mobility issues. We know their voices, and they know ours. We have a good relationship with our customers, and they depend on us to get them where they need to go,” said Ellis.
Customers are still required to schedule a ride at least two business days before the trip, and two weeks is currently the farthest out a reservation can be made.
Walker said the total number of trips TAPS can provide in its service area was still limited. “The board approved a budget that will allow us to book up to 120 trips daily, Monday through Friday. Seniors and individuals with disabilities will be at the top of the list for service,” said Walker.