TAPS: High gas prices = increased ridership

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SHERMAN, TX-Although gas prices seem to have leveled off, one area transit company said they're still paying big bucks to operate. But that increase is not necessarily bad for business.

TAPS Executive Director Brad Underwood said he's seen an 18% to 20% increase in fuel costs in the past three months, spending up to several thousand dollars a week to fill up 94 buses. But even with the added expense, TAPS is still setting record ridership because it's cheaper to ride than to drive.

Patricia Dunklin rides the TAPS bus three times a week to get to her doctor's office.

"Yeah, if it wasn't that far but I have to come all the way from almost Paris and they come and get me there," she said.

Dunklin said she would drive her car, but she couldn't afford the gas.

"I think they're ridiculous, I mean, there's no way they should be that high," she said.

"It's tough on us all. We have a certain amount budgeted for fuel. Good thing is we've done very good budgeting, we've kind of budgeted high so I'm glad we did that last year because we felt like gas is only gonna increase."

TAPS CEO Brad Underwood said while TAPS is spending more on fuel, they aren't losing revenue.

"The higher the gas prices rise, the more our ridership goes up as well. In fact, yesterday, we had a record day. We performed over 2600 trips in a single day. It was the biggest day TAPS has ever had," he said.

Each TAPS bus runs on 50 gallons of gas and that costs $200 to fill it up. That full tank of gas only lasts a day and a half.

"Our fuel costs typically run about $18,000 to $20,000 a week," said Underwood.

"and now?"

"And now we're seeing anywhere from $22,000 to $24,000 a week," he replied.

Underwood said they have made adjustments to keep costs down.

"We have to be leaner and meaner in what we're doing and more efficient. We're grouping more and more trips together, so that our buses are getting fuller and fuller as we utilize the economy scale. We also also looking for cutting costs in any way we can," he said.

According to GasBuddy.com, the average gas per gallon for regular unleaded in Texas is $3.64 and $3.65 for Oklahoma.
The nationwide average is $3.81 a gallon.

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