A remarkable union of Texas and Oklahoma public transportation was officially unveiled Tuesday as officials from Bryan and Grayson counties urged commuters to “Go Red River.”
The unique state line-crossing bus service has already begun between Durant, Sherman and Denison. Brightly painted passenger vans are providing scheduled service at $1 per ride on the “Storm Route,” “Eagle Route” and “Red River Route.”
Texoma Area Paratransit System, better known as TAPS, has been working on the effort for nearly half a decade. The main partners are Southern Oklahoma Regional Transit System (SORTS, a division of Big Five Community Action), Choctaw Nation and Southeastern Oklahoma State University.
Officials from both sides of the river gathered Tuesday at Center Stage of Choctaw Resort for a ribbon cutting and special event to kick off the new routes. Commemorative rides were made between Sherman, Denison and Oklahoma with ribbon cuttings on both sides of the Red.
“The need for this transportation is here, it’s vital and we need everyone at the table,” said Kris Dudley of Texas Department of Transportation. “This is an example to other states. You’ve got it all right here.”
“Welcome to Texoma, not just Bryan County or Grayson County,” said State Rep. Dustin Roberts. “You’ve shown that you can bring these two vibrant areas together. We need to show Norman and Austin how to work together, we need to show Washington D.C. how to work together, because we can do it.”
All agreed that economics played a big role in setting up the cross-border service. Increased fuel prices and long commutes among the three locations finally made it feasible to set up routes. Grayson College has partnered with Southeastern on class offerings, which helped TAPS and SORTS come together to commute students.
Now, the effort is reaching out to employees with the partnership of large employers including Choctaw Nation and Alorica. One official said as much as 20 percent of the Bryan County workforce comes from Texas.
State Sen. Josh Brecheen praised the effort as “part of this area’s economic turnaround.”
For more information about routes, stops and schedules, visit www.goredriver.com.