SHERMAN, TEXAS -- Big news for TAPS this week.
McKinney city council members voted to make the transit agency Collin County's official transportation provider.
TAPS will soon acquire C-CART, their current transit agency.
TAPS buses are on track to travel more than two million miles this year, and with this new acquisition, their service population will multiply exponentially.
They've come a long way since nearly going out of business four years ago. As TAPS CEO Brad Underwood says, their new-found success is thanks to their focus on the customer.
"TAPS is realistically serving a population of over half a million. That's big!" Underwood said.
In just four years time, the transit agency has quadrupled it's annual trips to 400,000 and increased its budget from $1.7 million to nearly $12 million.
"We started focusing on the customer. Where do individuals really want to go?" Underwood said.
Most recently, customers pointed TAPS south to Collin County; county commissioners and McKinney city council members have voted to make TAPS the county's official transit provider.
"We are now connecting ourselves to the metroplex," Underwood said.
With the acquisition of C-CART, Texomans will be able to take a TAPS bus from Durant to Plano, and vice versa.
"We've had a number of calls from Anna, Melissa, McKinney, some as far as Allen, that are already asking questions, 'What does the reverse commute look like into Grayson County?'" Underwood said.
The acquisition makes TAPS one of the largest transportation providers of its kind.
"Texas has the largest small urban and rural transit program in the nation. So I don't know if you can pull those two together, but it definitely puts us up there as one of the largest ones now," Underwood said.
The acquisition is a life changer for McKinney resident Justin Mann. Mann is blind and relies on public transit to get around.
When C-CART's funding was cut in 2011, it severed his means of transportation.
"So that was a major blow to you?"
"Yeah, I mean it was, it was like, wow, I've just paid $200,000 for a house, what am I going to do?" Mann said.
Mann says he tried reaching out to C-CART.
"C-CART had failed to call me back and help me resolve transportation, so then uh, I called Brad and said, 'Look Brad, can you help me out?'" Mann said.
"We are very sensitive to that. We want to do our best to try to accommodate," Underwood said.
"It becomes the great equalizer that, yes, if you have public transportation, you know, you certainly can at least be expected to do just as good as somebody with a car," Underwood said.
Mann is optimistic that TAPS can be successful in Collin County. Underwood says they're up to the task.
"One step every day. We do something a little bit better than we did yesterday, and by the end of the year, we've come along way," Underwood said.
TAPS plans to begin the Collin County routes on July 1st.
At that time, they'll operate nearly 150 busses covering 500,000 annual trips.
They're also expecting to start construction on a new facility, called the North Texas Regional Transportation Center, to house TAPS and other local organizations.