What Can Public Transit Deserts Learn From Paris, Texas?

  • Date: 12/07/2023

Since 2016, Blackener and Hale have been able to rely on the “Paris Metro” to provide a working fixed-route bus system running every hour on the hour, Monday through Friday, 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. The service makes Paris something of a unicorn among small cities in rural parts of Texas, where public transportation is often underfunded, leaving carless commuters with few options. Paris, prior to 2016, was one such public transit desert. Before the influx of the compact maroon-and-white buses that now make their way around town, locals had to schedule bus rides via the local rural transit district—the Ark-Tex Council of Governments Rural Transit District (TRAX)—24 hours in advance. TRAX covers a vast area spanning nine counties and a city in Arkansas, and it was ill-equipped to meet demand. By 2011, it was turning down about a thousand calls per month from Lamar County, where Paris is, said Sheena Record, who works for TRAX. She recommended more public transportation for the area to fill the gap. By 2013, she had involved community stakeholders and started applying for grants.

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