Officials with TAPS Public Transit presented more than $1.28 million in projects earlier this week to be included in short-range plans for the Sherman-Denison Metropolitan Planning Organization. This marks a new level of participation by the transit agency in area transportation planning, Grayson County Judge Bill Magers said Wednesday.
“As you know, TAPS has been working to restore its legitimacy and the confidence of the community,” Magers, who serves as the vice chairman of the TAPS board of directors, said.
While the MPO plans include sections for public transit, Magers said the agency has never participated in the process since at least when he joined the MPO board in 2008. Previously, meetings that were made to discuss the budget were subsequently canceled and never followed up on, Magers said.
“TAPS is a part of our transportation ecosystem,” he said, following the meeting.
The $1.28 million described in the amendment represents TAPS’ urban transit operations for the 2017 fiscal year, Transdev Assistant General Manager Josh Walker said. This includes $512,448 in operational costs and $768,672 in administrative costs.
These figures also include $160,000 in local match funds that were recently provided by Grayson County and the cities of Sherman and Denison. Of this, more than $153,000 is allocated toward administration. These local match funds also helped the agency secure more than $870,000 in federal transit funding.
Walker said this amendment only reflects TAPS Urban funding for 2017 as officials do not know funding levels for subsequent years. Between urban and rural services, Walker said TAPS currently is budgeted for $2.7 million in the current fiscal year.
“We are going to move forward with more long-term planning,” he said.
The move to incorporate TAPS into the MPO plans comes as state and federal funding providers are looking to get transit agencies more involved in local transportation planning. Previously, the agency had been involved only on the state-level transportation plans, Magers said.
The inclusion of TAPS in the planning process will ultimately help all parties as it results in a more comprehensive planning process, officials said.
“When the MPO submits its Transportation Improvement Plan, this makes it more holistic,” Magers said.
The amendment still needs to be put out for public comment and may require a special session by the MPO to approve next month, Magers said.