TAPS suspends service for 90 days

TAPS Public TransitBy Allen Rich | January 7, 2016

Sherman — In an effort to reorganize while adjacent Rural Transit Districts provide emergency service coverage, Texoma Area Paratransit System (TAPS) Board of Directors announced that TAPS would suspend service up to, but no more than, 90 days. The suspension of services will occur as soon as possible.

For residents of Fannin and Grayson counties, emergency service coverage will be provided by Ark-Tex Council of Governments, which assists local governments in Bowie, Cass, Delta, Franklin, Hopkins, Lamar, Morris, Red River and Titus counties in northeast Texas, as well as Miller County in southwest Arkansas.

A resolution passed Wednesday afternoon at a regular meeting of the board of directors instructed TAPS CEO Tim Patton “to facilitate a seamless transition to these emergency services including, but not limited to, transfer of fleet, communications with customers, and other assistance or information as necessary.”

With adjacent Rural Transit Districts utilizing TAPS buses and employees, Patton is hopeful TAPS riders will experience very little change in service.

Board members directed Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) officials to allocate sufficient funds from the current TAPS grant program to adjacent Rural Transit Districts in order to pay for emergency service coverage.

“This is a very positive step in the eyes of TxDOT and other agencies,” remarked Patton.

“We believe this is a positive move going forward,” echoed Fannin County Judge Spanky Carter, chairman of the TAPS board. “We are all focused on turning this thing around.”

Patton was also directed by the board to prepare, for board approval, a detailed start-up plan for the six county areas, including the urbanized area of Sherman, to be implemented at the end of the 90-day suspension period. The TAPS CEO will also develop appropriate financial and managerial oversight procedures and controls.

At the same time, TAPS personnel have been directed by the resolution to “investigate, find, and deliver by January 11, 2016 all documentation available to support the approximately $930,000 of undocumented reimbursements associated with the findings in the TxDOT Audit Report.”

The $930,000 has already been drawn down, however at the time TAPS employees failed to appropriately substantiate how the funds were used.

TAPS personnel are also expected to prepare a recovery plan which meets all requirements of the Federal Transit Administration and finalize an agreement with the IRS that is acceptable to the Federal Transit Administration.

TAPS will seek to engage consulting services to direct and/or assist these efforts.

A subcommittee consisting of Carter, Grayson County Judge Bill Magers (vice-chair of the TAPS board), and Terrence Steele (secretary/treasurer of the TAPS board) will supervise this effort and make decisions as necessary during the process.

“First, we have to get our house in order,” Carter said, “but we are going to get this turned around.”

First published in North Texas eNews on January 7, 2016, reprinted with permission from publisher.