Veteran TAPS employee Darlene Smith has spent 15 years helping people get to where they need to go. Beginning as a driver, Smith now moves from front of the bus, to the front office with her promotion to Deputy Operations Officer.
Smith will report directly to Chief Operations Officer Tim Patton.
“Darlene’s focus will be to find ways to improve our daily functions and operations,” said Brad Underwood, TAPS CEO and Executive Director. “Darlene has always exceeded our expectations in every role she has filled. We expect no less in her new job.”
“There is nothing more valuable than real world experience and Darlene has it,” said Tim Patton. “It’s not just having done it that qualifies her —she has worked in nearly every part of operations— but her ability to see things clearly and find solutions to problems.”
Smith joined TAPS in 1999 as a driver in the Gainesville area. Then, TAPS was a small rural van and station wagon shared ride service. Ten years later she was promoted to Lead Driver —an entirely new position at the agency— and a year after that she was named Area Supervisor for Fannin, Cooke, Montague and Clay counties.
In July of this year, Smith was promoted again. This time to one of four new Assistant General Manager jobs.
The Gainesville resident has a frank and straightforward style. That honesty has endeared her to most everyone on the operations side of TAPS Public Transit, and clearly has won her fans at the top level of management.
“Our biggest challenge as an agency to is not let our perpetual growth spurt overwhelm us,” said Smith. “From a handful of counties to our current 16 county service area, we have been stretched thin. Anyone who understands how transportation agencies are funded knows that we are always about two years behind in getting paid —the money we spend to operate today won’t be reimbursed for at least two years.”