MCKINNEY (CBS11) — North Texans are wondering how they’ll get around Monday after a struggling public transit service prepares to offer a bare-bones schedule.
The Texoma Area Paratransit System, better known as TAPS, serves Collin and six other counties. It’s been struggling financially for months and now faces an investigation for possible fraud.
In McKinney every route except the commuter bus to the DART station will be out of service. That leaves the people who rely on the buses unsure what they’ll do.
The TAPS website spells out a clear warning that fixed route buses will not run on Monday and until further notice. For people like Reuben Clayborne, that leaves few options.
“I really need the service to stay here because it’s the only way I can get around, get to the grocery store and things like that,” Clayborne said.
On Friday, Clayborne took what may be his last ride for some time on his regular route from McKinney’s main terminal. Now he doesn’t know what to expect in the weeks ahead.
“Puts me in a position, real bad position where I’m worrying a lot about it ’cause everyone needs a way around,” Clayborne said.
After repeatedly missing payrolls for employees, TAPS had its worst week when it lost crucial state funding Thursday, then Friday voted to scale back operations to the bare minimum to stay in business.
Former TAPS call center supervisor Tina Richie-Tomlinson was among more than 50 employees who lost their jobs.
“You know we were here for a purpose, and we worked for that purpose, and for it to be thrown away because of mismanagement, people being in positions that they shouldn’t be in, it’s very, very gut-wrenching,” Richie-Tomlinson said.
The Texas Health and Human Services Commission cited a failure to maintain financial integrity among the reasons it terminated a multimillion-dollar contract with TAPS. Now the Office of the Inspector General is investigating the agency for possible criminal wrongdoing.
For now a dramatically scaled-back TAPS remains in business, but the agency is struggling to survive.
“I just hope we can get this resolved, they can get it resolved, and everything will be alright again, people will be able to get around,” Clayborne said.
A TAPS spokesperson tells CBS11 more details on ride reductions are expected to be announced Monday. There are a limited number of buses still running, including some for medical-related rides. For a breakdown of which routes will be out of service head here.
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